I aim to do theoretically driven research that may have practical, pedagogical implications. Below, I listed the larger projects I am currently working on.
I am runnning and have run several studies investigating the role of input instruction and awareness in second language learning. I'm particularly interested in the added value of explicit information and instruction for second language learning; how distributional features of the input affect language learning outcomes; what role awareness plays in the language learning trajectory. In many of these studies, I use the eye-tracking visual world paradigm as a measure of learning.
In addition, I supervise(d) two PhD projects on this theme:
MIND is short for 'Multilingualism in Daycare'. This project, that started in February 2018 and will run for four years, aims to understand how bilingual daycare affects the development of both languages offered (Dutch and English or French) in young children. The daycare centers and their children will be followed for several years. The project tries to answer a range of questions, subdivided into three subprojects. PhD candidate Kyra Hanekamp investigates how children respond to bilingual daycare and how much input they need to develop the second language. PhD candidate Darlene Keydeniers investigates what bilingual daycare means for the development of Dutch and wants to know if particular aspects of Dutch are subject to crosslinguistic influence. Post-doctoral researcher Josje Verhagen wants to find out how home language and literacy skills affect the development of both Dutch and English or French.
The OASIS initiative is establishing a systematic and sustainable culture of providing open, accessible summaries of research in the language sciences. The main aim is to address some of the long-attested challenges of communicating research beyond academia. In collaboration with journal editors, professional associations, and language educators, we have developed guidelines for writing Accessible Summaries and we are creating a critical mass of 300 one-page non-technical summaries. We are also working with journal editors to establish procedures for routinely soliciting summaries from their accepted authors. The summaries are searchable and freely available from https://oasis-database.org. We have a large network of collaborators who are writing, editing, and approving summaries in a wide range of research areas, including second and foreign language learning and teaching, multilingualism, language education, and testing. If you wish to participate in the initiative, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Studies in Listening (Stilis)
I was involved in the Stilis project (studies in listening proficiency). The goal of this project was to explore and explain individual differences in listening proficiency. This was done by assessing our participants' sentence processing skills and several related skills/capacities we hypothesize to be predictive of or related to listening comprehension. Both young and elderly native speakers of Duch and nonnative learners of Dutch were assessed. The Stilis project is a five-year project that started in August 2007 (with Catherine van Beuningen, Jan Hulstijn, Nomi Olsthoorn and Rob Schoonen) and ended officially in the summer of 2012.
My PhD research project was titled Form-focused instruction and the development of second language proficiency. In the project, I reviewed previous work comparing the effectiveness of explicit and implicit types of instruction, and I assessed experimentally whether explicit instruction was more effective than implicit instruction all else being equal (most notably: exposure to the target structures). I concluded that the evidence for the superiority of explicit instruction is not as overwhelming as sometimes suggested. The data demonstrated that both approaches were equally effective overall. However, for one of the target structures, there was an interaction with first language background. Explicit instruction was more effective than implicit instruction for participants with a resembling structure in the L1, but less effective if the same meaning was expressed by means of a totally different target structure.
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Most of the courses I teach are part of the master programme Dutch as a Second Language. This is a programme of one and a half years that focuses on every aspect of the acquisition of Dutch as a second language. The programme includes courses on second language acquisition, multilingualism ad langauge policiy, language pedagogy, and the development of language teaching materials. In all courses, the goal is to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
I also teach courses in the BA programme of the Dutch department about child and adult literacy development and reseach methods.