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Distinguished Lectures in Humanities: Variable outcomes in first- and second-language acquisition: conditioning factors and analytical perspectives

Distinguished Lectures in Humanities

  • Date

    17 Nov 2021

  • Organiser

    Faculty of Humanities

  • Time

    11:00 - 12:30

  • Venue

    Live webinar (Zoom)  


The talk will be conducted in English.


The outcomes of second language (L2) acquisition are typically more heterogeneous than those observed among learners of the first language (L1). This presentation explores the sources, types and loci of variable outcomes among bilinguals and native speakers, with particular attention to certain learner-independent factors that could generate or condition such variabilities. In this regard, we consider: masked interindividual variability in attainment; possible sources of increasing variability with age of acquisition; the interaction of age of acquisition and the grammatical status of items in acceptability judgments; and how linguistic dominance in bilingualism may predict variability in learning artificial languages. We introduce a novel analytical perspective, which involves the comparison of non-natives and natives in terms of factors that may condition their respective attained variabilities. We propose applications of similar methods to future research on variable outcomes in the L1 and the L2.  

About the speaker
Prof Birdsong received the PhD in Romance Languages from Harvard University and has held the positions of Visiting Professor at Georgetown University and at Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier III, Visiting Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, and International Chair, LABEX-Empirical Foundations of Linguistics in Paris. His research relates to second language acquisition, bilingualism, psycholinguistics and French linguistics. His interests include the neurocognitive and experiential factors that influence ultimate attainment in a second language, and the measurement and predictive power of language dominance in bilingualism.

Read more about the Distinguished Lectures in Humanities

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