Susan Ballinger Ph.D. Educational Studies, Language Acquisition Program, McGill University, 2012
Meghan Clayards Ph.D. Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, 2008

Fred Genesee

Ph.D. Psychology, McGill University, 1974

Heather Goad 

Ph.D. Linguistics, University of Southern California, 1994

Laura Gonnerman

Ph.D. Linguistics, University of Southern California, 1999

Roy Lyster

Ph.D. Applied Linguistics, University of Toronto, 1993

Aparna Nadig

Ph.D. Cognitive Science, Brown University, 2004                                                                                                                       

Kristine H. Onishi

Ph.D. Psychology, University of Illinois, 2004                                                                                                                       

Yuriko Oshima-Takane

Ph.D. Psychology, McGill University, 1985                                                                                                              

Linda Polka

Ph.D. Experimental Psychology and Communication Disorders, University of South Florida, 1989

Susan Rvachew

Ph.D. Experimental Psychology, University of Calgary, 1995

Mela Sarkar

Ph.D. Humanities, Concordia University, 2000

Robert Savage

Ph.D. Psychology, Department of Educational Psychology and Special Needs, University of London Institute of Education, 1998

Karsten Steinhauer

Ph.D. Cognitive Neuroscience, Free University of Berlin / Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 2000

Elin Thordardottir

Ph.D. Communicative Disorders, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1998

Debra Titone Ph.D. Experimental Psychology, State University of NY, Binghamton, 1995

Lydia White

Ph.D. Linguistics, McGill University, 1980







Susan Ballinger (Ph.D. Educational Studies, Acquisition Program, McGill University, 2012)

I am interested in researching the role of teacher scaffolding and strategy instruction in promoting L2 development and collaboration during classroom peer interaction; using biliteracy and cross-linguistic instructional approaches to build bilingual students’ overall language awareness; and investigating the influence of sociolinguistic context on students’ language production and language choices in bilingual classrooms. My research has taken place in Canadian and U.S. immersion contexts.


Selected References:

Sato, M., & Ballinger, S. (Eds.). (In Press). Peer interaction and second language learning: Pedagogical potential and research agenda [Series: Language Learning and Language Teaching]. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Ballinger, S. (2015). Linking content, linking students: A cross-linguistic pedagogical intervention. In J. Cenoz & D. Gorter (Eds.), Multilingual education: New perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lyster, R., Quiroga, J., & Ballinger, S. (2013). The effects of biliteracy instruction on morphological awareness. Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education, 1(2), 169–197.

Ballinger, S. (2013). Towards a cross-linguistic pedagogy: Biliteracy and reciprocal learning strategies in French immersion. Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education, 1(1), 131–148.

Sato, M., & Ballinger, S. (2012). Raising language awareness in peer interaction: A cross-context, cross-method examination. Language Awareness 21(1–2), 157-179.

Ballinger, S., & Lyster, R. (2011). Student and teacher language use in a two-way Spanish/English immersion school. Language Teaching Research, 15(3), 289–306.

Lyster, R., Collins, L., & Ballinger, S. (2009). Linking languages through a bilingual read-aloud project. Language Awareness, 18, 366–383.

Contact information:



Meghan Clayards (Ph.D. Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, 2008)

My research explores the role of phonetic variability in speech perception and how listeners and learners adapt to the phonetic patterns of their linguistic environment and what happens when those patterns change. I run studies on speech production and perception, often involving eye-tracking.

Selected References:


Bang, H.Y., Clayards, M., Goad, H. (2015) A child specific compensatory mechanism in the acquisition of English /s/. In E. Grillo & K. Jepson (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Boston Conference on Child Language: Cascadilla Press. pp. 75-87.

Clayards, M., Niebuhr, O., Gaskell, M.G. (2015) The time-course of auditory and language-specific mechanisms in compensation for sibilant assimilation. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. 77:1, 311-328. doi: 10.3758/s13414-014-0750-z.

Brosseau-Lapré, F., Rvachew, S., Clayards, M., Dixon, D. (2013) Stimulus variability and perceptual learning of non-native vowel categories. Applied Psycholinguistics. 34 (3), 419-441 doi:10.1017/S0142716411000750

Niebuhr, O., Clayards, M., Meunier, C., Lancia, L. (2011) On place assimilation within sibilant sequences – comparing French and English. Journal of Phonetics, 39, 429-451.

Bejjanki, V.R., Clayards, M., Knill, D.C., Aslin, R.N., (2011) Cue integration in categorical tasks: insights from audio-visual speech perception. PLOS one 6(5): e19812. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019812

Clayards, M., Tanenhaus, M.K., Aslin, R.N., Jacobs, R.A., (2008) Perception of speech reflects optimal use of probabilistic speech cues. Cognition, 108(3), 804-809.

Contact information:


Fred Genesee (Ph.D. Psychology, McGill University, 1974)

My research interests include the effectiveness of alternative forms of bilingual and immersion education for both majority and minority language students; language acquisition in pre-school children who are learning two languages simultaneously; language development in cross-language adopted children; and the language and academic development of students in bilingual programs who are at-risk for language or reading impairment.  

Selected References:

Gauthier, K., & Genesee, F. (submitted). Language development in internationally-adopted children: A special case of early second language learning. 


Gauthier, K., & Genesee, F., (submitted). Communication patterns between internationally-adopted children and their mothers: Implications for language development.


Genesee, F., Paradis, J., & Crago, M.  (2004).  Dual Language Development and Disorders: A Handbook on Bilingualism and Second Language Learning Baltimore, Maryland: Brookes Publishing.

Comeau, L., & Genesee, F. (in press). A comparison of bilingual and monolingual children’s conversational repairs. First Language.

Genesee, F., & Jared, D. (2008).  Literacy development in early French immersion programs. Canadian Psychologist, 49(2), 140-147.

Genesee, F. (2007). French immersion and at-risk students: A review of research findings. Canadian Modern Language Review, 63, 655-688.

Comeau, L., Genesee, F., & Mendelson, M. (2007). Bilingual children’s repairs of breakdowns in communication. Journal of Child Language. 34: 159-174


Zwanziger, E., Allen, S.E.M., & Genesee, F. (2006). Crosslinguistic influence in bilingual acquisition.  Journal of Child Language, 32, 893-910.


Contact information:



Heather Goad (Ph.D. Linguistics, University of Southern California, 1994) 

My research investigates the acquisition of phonology. I am principally concerned with examining the role that representations play in defining the notion ‘possible grammar’ in acquisition. In first language acquisition, my research focuses on the acquisition of constituency and how this can account for patterns in the development of clusters, word-final consonants, stress and segmental acquisition. In second language acquisition, my work focuses on providing prosodic explanations for patterns observed in the acquisition of functional morphology, an area in which syntactic explanations are typically provided.


Selected References:

Goad, H. 2011. The representation of sC clusters. In M. van Oostendorp, C. Ewen, E. Hume & K. Rice (eds.) The Blackwell companion to phonology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 898-923.

Goad, H. & L. White. 2009. Prosodic transfer and the representation of determiners in Turkish-English interlanguage. In N. Snape, Y.-k. I. Leung & M. Sharwood Smith (eds) Representational deficits in SLA: Studies in Honor of Roger Hawkins. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 1-26.

Goad, H. & L. White. 2008. Prosodic structure and the representation of L2 functional morphology: A nativist approach. Lingua 118: 577-594.

Goad, H. & M. Buckley. 2006. Prosodic structure in child French: Evidence for the foot. Catalan Journal of Linguistics 5: 109-142. Special issue on the Acquisition of Romance Languages.

Goad, H. & Y. Rose. 2004. Input elaboration, head faithfulness and evidence for representation in the acquisition of left-edge clusters in West Germanic. In R. Kager, J. Pater & W. Zonneveld, eds., Constraints in phonological acquisition, 109-157. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Contact information:


Laura Gonnerman (Ph.D. Linguistics, University of Southern California, 1999) 

My two main areas of interest are: 1) the structure of the lexical semantic system; and 2) the acquisition, representation, and processing of morphologically complex words in English and other languages. To explore these areas, I use a combination of research in acquisition, normal adult processing, language loss in Alzheimer's disease and other disorders, connectionist modeling, and neuroimaging.


Selected References

Gonnerman, L.M., Seidenberg, M.S., & Andersen, E.S. (2007). Graded semantic and phonological similarity effects in priming: Evidence for a distributed connectionist approach to morphology. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136, 323-345.


Gonnerman, L.M., (2007) Children’s recognition of novel derived words. In Caunt-Nulton, H., Kulatilake, S., & Woo, I. (Eds.) BUCLD 31: Proceedings of the 31st annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, (p. 251-261). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.


Aronoff, J.M., Gonnerman, L.M., Almor, A., Kempler, D., & Andersen, E.S. . (2006). Information content versus relational knowledge: Semantic deficits in patients with Alzheimer's disease.Neuropsychologia. 44, 21-35


Devlin, J.T., Jamison, H.L., Gonnerman, L.M., & Matthews, P.M. (2006). The role of the posterior fusiform gyrus in reading. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18 (6), 911-922.


Contact information:


Phone: 514-398-3878

Fax: 514-398-8123


Roy Lyster  (Ph.D. Applied Linguistics, University of Toronto, 1993) 

My research investigates second language acquisition in classroom settings, with a specific focus on immersion and content-based classrooms. This program of research has included observational and experimental studies of teacher-student interaction, form-focused instruction, corrective feedback, and the role of morphological awareness in biliteracy development.

Saito, K., & Lyster, R. (in press). Effects of form-focused instruction and corrective feedback on L2 pronunciation development by Japanese learners of English. Language Learning.

Lyster, R., & Ballinger, S. (Eds.). (2011). Content-based language teaching. [Special Issue]. Language Teaching Research, 15 (3).

Lyster, R., & Saito, K. (2010). Oral feedback in classroom SLA: A meta-analysis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32, 265-302.

Yang, Y., & Lyster, R. (2010). Effects of form-focused practice and feedback on Chinese EFL learners’ acquisition of regular and irregular past-tense forms. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32, 235-263.

Lyster, R. (2007). Learning and teaching languages through content: A counterbalanced approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Contact Information:




Aparna Nadig (Ph.D. Cognitive Science, Brown University, 2004)


My research focuses on pragmatic development, social communication, and language and communication in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. In particular I am interested in how we use multiple sources of information (visual, prosodic, from previous discourse, about our conversational partner) to arrive at a speaker’s intended meaning, and how we do this in real time. Recent work in my lab has focused on early word learning processes in autism and in typical development, and on analyses of prosody and conversation in speakers with autism spectrum disorders.


Selected References


Nadig, A. & Shaw, H. (2011). Expressive prosody in high-functioning autism: Increased pitch range and what it means to listeners. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, April 29, Epublication ahead of print.


Vivanti, G., McCormick, C., Young, G., Abucayan, F., Hatt., N., Nadig, A., Ozonoff, S. and Rogers, S. (2011). Intact and impaired mechanisms of action understanding in autism. Developmental Psychology, 47 (3),  841–856.


Nadig, A., Lee, I., Singh, L., Bosshart, K. & Ozonoff, S. (2010). How does the topic of conversation affect verbal exchange and eye gaze? A comparison between typical development and high-functioning autism. Neuropsychologia, 48 (9), 2730-2739.


Nadig, A., Vivanti, G. & Ozonoff, S. (2009). Object descriptions under different communicative demands: How do children with and without autism adapt? Autism Research, 2, 1-14.


Vivanti, G., Nadig., A., Ozonoff, S., & Rogers, S.J. (2008). What to children with autism attend to during imitation tasks? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Special issue on Imitation in Autism, 101, 186-205.


Nadig, A., Ozonoff, S., Young, G., Rozga, A., Sigman, M., & Rogers, S. J. (2007). A prospective study of response-to-name in infants at risk for autism. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Theme issue on Autism, 161(4), 378-383.


Nadig, A. & Sedivy, J. (2002). Evidence of perspective-taking constraints in children's on-line reference resolution. Psychological Science, 13(4), 329-336.



Contact Information:




Kristine H. Onishi (Ph.D. Psychology, University of Illinois, 2004) 


I am interested in how we become competent language users - how we learn the relevant sound and conceptual structures for language and how we map between the two. My research has examined (1) how infants (and adults) learn about the sound structures of their native language. For example, how do speakers of English learn that "fing" is a more likely word than "ngif"?; and (2) what types of conceptual structures infants possess that enable language learning. For example, do infants understand that other people act on the basis of goals and beliefs.


Chambers, K. E., Onishi, K. H., & Fisher, C. (in press). Representations for phonotactic learning in infancy. Language Learning and Development.


Chambers, K. E., Onishi, K. H., & Fisher, C. (2010). A vowel is a vowel: Generalizing newly-learned phonotactic constraints to new contexts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36(3), 821-828.


Seidl, A., Cristià, A., Bernard, A., & Onishi, K. H. (2009). Allophonic and phonemic contrasts in infants' learning of sound patterns.  Language Learning and Development, 5, 191-202.


Onishi, K.H., & Baillargeon, R. (2005). Do 15-month-old infants understand false beliefs? Science, 308, 255-258.


Contact Information: 



Yuriko Oshima-Takane (Ph.D. Psychology, McGill University, 1985) 


My research interests lie mainly in the development of language and communication. I am particularly interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms and environmental factors that together determine the course of early language development. My research in this area includes cross-linguistic studies on word learning in typically-developing children and high-functioning autistic children and the role of linguistic input in early lexical and syntactic development. In these studies I have been investigating what kinds of information (syntactic, semantic, or/and pragmatic) children use when learning new words and sentence structures. I recently began French-English, French-Japanese, and Japanese-English bilingual studies to investigate how bilingual children acquire two distinct verb argument structures and gesture production systems. In addition to empirical studies, I am conducting computer modeling experiments and network analysis to understand semantic representations and developmental mechanisms in children.

Selected References:

Oshima-Takane, Y. (2006). Acquisition of nouns and verbs in Japanese. In M.Nakayama, R. Mazuka, Y. Shirai, &  P. Li (Eds.), Handbook of East Asian Psycholinguistics: Japanese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Guerriero, M.A.S., Oshima-Takane, Y., & Kuriyama, Y. (2006). The development of referential choice in English and Japanese: A discourse-pragmatic perspective. Journal of Child Language, 3, 823-257.


Oshima-Takane, Y., Satin, J., & Tint, A. (2008). Rapid word-action mapping in French- and English-speaking children. Proceedings of 32nd Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, 347-359.  Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.


 Zvaigzne, M., Oshima-Takane, Y., Groleau, P., Nakamura, K., & Genesee, F. (2008).  The function of children’s iconic co-speech gestures: A study with Japanese-French bilinguals and French monolinguals. Proceedings of 32nd Annual Boston University Conference on language Development, 598-609 Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.


Contact Information:




Linda Polka (Ph.D. Experimental Psychology and Communication Disorders, University of South Florida, 1989) 

Research interests

My research focuses the development of speech perception during infancy. The goal of this work is to understand the skills and biases that the infants bring to this task and how their speech processing changes with age and language experience to support language processing. In my lab we are currently engaged in perception and production research to test, refine and expand the Natural Referent Vowel (NRV) model, a conceptual framework emerging from our previous developmental cross-linguistic research.We are also pursing research exploring the effects of early bilingualism on various levels of speech processing including segmental (phonetic perception) and suprasegmental aspects (word segmentation, discrimination and listening preferences in fluent speech). My research expertise also includes work in the area of identification and assessment of hearing loss in infants. Bridging these applied and clinical fields I am interested in understanding how experience with otitis media (middle ear infections) in infancy impacts the early development of speech processing. 

Representative Publications

Polka, L. & Sundara, M, (in press).  Word segmentation in monolingual infants acquiring Canadian English and Canadian French: Native language, cross-language, and cross-dialect comparisons, Infanc

Polka, L. & Bohn, O-S. (in press).  Natural Referent Vowel (NRV) framework: An emerging view of early phonetic development, Journal of Phonetics 

Mattock, K, Polka, L, & Rvachew, S., & Krehm, M.  (2010)  The first steps in word learning are easier when the shoes fit: Comparing monolingual and bilingual infants, Developmental Science, 13:1 229-243.

Shahnaz, N., Miranda, T. & Polka, L. (2008) Multi-frequency tympanometry in neonatal intensive care unit & well babies, Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 19 (5), 392-418

Rvachew, S. Alhaidary, A. Mattock, K. & Polka, L. (2008), Emergence of corner vowels in the babble produced by infants exposed to Canadian English or Canadian French, Journal of Phonetics, 36, 564-577

Polka, L. Rvachew, S. & Molnar, M. (2008). Speech perception by 6- to 8-month-olds in the presence of distracting sound, Infancy, 13 (5) 421-439.

Sundara, M., Polka, L. & Molnar, M. (2008) Development of coronal stop perception: Bilingual infants keep pace with their monolingual peers Cognition, 108, 232-242.

Polka, L, Rvachew, s. & Mattock, K. (2007).  Experiential influences on speech perception and production during infancy.  E. Hoff & M. Shatz (Eds.) Handbook of Child Language Oxford: Blackwell.

Polka, L, & Rvachew, S. (2005)  The impact of otitis media with effusion on infant phonetic perception  Infancy  8(2), 101-117.


Contact Information:

Phone: 514-398-7235
Fax: 514-398-8123


Susan Rvachew (Ph.D. Experimental Psychology, University of Calgary, 1995)

Research interests are focused on phonological development and disorders with specific research topics including: the role of speech perception development in sound production learning; speech development in infancy; efficacy of interventions for phonological disorders; and computer applications in the treatment of phonological disorders. Current projects include a randomized control trial of interventions to improve speeach and phonological awareness skills in pre-schoolers with speech sound disorders and investigations of cross-linguistic differences in the acoustic characteristics of vowels produced by infants.


Selected References:

Rvachew, S., Alhaidary, A., Mattock, K., & Polka, L. (2008). Emergence of the corner vowels in the babble produced by infants exposed to Canadian English or Canadian French. Journal of Phonetics, 36, 564-577.

Rvachew, S. (2007). Phonological processing and reading in children with speech sound disorders.                             American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 16, 260-270.

Rvachew, S., Chiang, P., & Evans, N. (2007). Characteristics of speech errors produced by children with and without delayed phonological awareness skills. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 38, 1-12.

Contact information:


Mela Sarkar (Ph.D. Humanities, Concordia University, 2000)




My research focuses on the empowerment of linguistically marginalized populations, specifically immigrant-origin youth and Canadian Indigenous communities, through language acquisition and education (sometimes their own, sometimes that of majority-language speakers, who are too often monolingual). I work within a critical paradigm and endeavour to involve community members in research, for example using Participatory Action Research methodology, as much as possible. Attempting to understand power imbalances and social inequities based in language attitudes and use, and looking for ways to redress them, is the common theme underlying my diverse areas of interest.


Past research areas: (1) The acquisition of aspects of complex argument structure in early child French by both L1 and L2 populations (particularly Bengali-L1 preschoolers); (2) Routinized French L2 learning in a multiethnic Montreal “accueil” kindergarten; (3) South Asian women in Montreal and sociocultural barriers to learning French in the COFI classroom; (4) Young Muslim Montrealers and inclusive school policies in the wake of 9-11.


Present research areas: (1) Nemitueg tli’suti napui’gnigtug, teaching Mi’gmaq through images in Listuguj—reclaiming an endangered language for community use; (2) Learning to translanguage in and out of Montreal classrooms—going beyond multilingualism to a unitary concept of “language mixing” in multiethnic contact situations; (3) Language mixing, hybrid youth identities and Caribbean Creole influences in Montreal and Toronto Hip-Hop lyrics.


Selected References:


Sarkar, M, & B. Low.  (in press).  Multilingualism and popular culture. In M. Martin-Jones, A. Blackledge & A. Creese (Eds.), Handbook of Multilingualism.  London: Routledge.


Sarkar, M., J. Metallic, M.A. Metallic. & J. Vicaire (in press). « Listugujg nemitueg tli’suti napui’gnigtug »: Apprendre le mi’gmaq à l’âge adulte à Listuguj. In L. Drapeau (Ed.), Les langues autochtones du Québec: un patrimoine en danger.  Montréal: Les presses de l’Université du Québec.

Sarkar, M., & M.A. Metallic. (2009). Indigenizing the structural syllabus: The challenge of revitalizing Mi’gmaq in Listuguj. Canadian Modern Language Review, 66(1), 49-71.

Sarkar, M. (2009). "Still reppin' por mi gente": the transformative power of language mixing in Quebec Hip-Hop.  In H.S. Alim, A. Ibrahim & A. Pennycook (Eds.), Global linguistic flows: Hip Hop cultures, youth identities, and the politics of language (pp. 139-157). New York, NY: Routledge.


Low, B., M. Sarkar, & L. Winer.  (2009). "Chus mon propre Bescherelle": Challenges from the Hip-Hop nation to the Quebec nation. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 13/1, 59-82.


Sarkar, M., C. Lavoie & A. Desautels.  (2006). Politiques interculturelles et pratiques scolaires en milieu multiethnique montréalais: apprendre sur le tas?  Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for the Practical Study of the Law and Education, 2006 (pp. 762-789).


Sarkar, M. (2005). “A l’école on parle français”: second language acquisition and the creation of community in a multiethnic Montreal kindergarten. In F. Salili & R. Hoosain (eds.), Language in multicultural education  (Research in Multicultural Education and International Perspectives series) (pp. 310-342). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.


Sarkar, M. (2002). Saute ça/”Jump this!”: The acquisition of the faire faire causative by first and second language learners of French. Annual Review of Language Acquisition, 2, 157201.


Contact information:





Robert Savage (Ph.D. Psychology, Department of Educational Psychology and Special Needs, University of London Institute of Education, 1998)


I have a range of interests in children's reading and spelling acquisition, including research on basic cognitive processes in normal early reading development such as analogy and inference-use, the cognitive processing problems in poor readers and dyslexics, such as phonological awareness, and rapid naming and the early identification and effective intervention for reading and spelling problems in schools.

I also aim to develop effective school-based mechanisms to identify children who might be at-risk of reading difficulties at the end of kindergarten and beginning of grade 1 and to intervene to support early reading in a preventative fashion in grade 1 using well-replicated reading intervention studies emphasizing either phonemic rules or rime-based analogies. I am also interested in cross-linguistic aspects of this work particularly in bilingual Quebec schools.

I currently hold parts of two large co-researcher grant from FQRSC to explore the effectiveness of the ABRACADABRA computer-based literacy intervention project: This research program explores the effectiveness of the system in facilitating reading development in 'at-risk' children in grade 1. This multi-disciplinary work commands significant interest from schools and school boards. Evaluations of this exciting learning technology are ongoing in a number of schools in Quebec across Canada and around the world. A French version of ABRA is currently in development. In addition I hold funding from the Ministry of Education to explore similarities in Teaching in English and French, and a William Dawson Scholarship to explore technology, literacy and classroom practices.

Recent publications

Di Stasio, M., Savage, R. S., & Abrami, P. (2011). A follow up study of the ABRACADABRA web-literacy intervention in grade 1. Journal of Research in Reading. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2010.01469.x. (Paper published online first in Wiley Early view). 

Erdos, C., Genesee, F., Savage, R. S., & Haigh, C. A. (2011). Individual differences in second language reading acquisition: A study of early French immersion students. International Journal of Bilingualism, 15, 1, 3-25. DOI: 10.1177/1367006910371022). 

Haigh, C., Savage, R.S., Genesee, F., & Erdos, C. (2011).The role of onset-rime awareness in second language reading acquisition. Journal of Research in Reading (special issue on bilingualism, 34, 1, 94-113. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2010.01475.x.

Savage, R. S., Deault, L., Daki, J., & Aouad, J. (2011). Orthographic analogies and early reading: Evidence from a multiple clue word paradigm.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 103, 1, 190-205. DOI: 10.1037/a0021621.

Savage, R. S., Erten, O., Abrami, P., Hipps, G., Comaskey, E., & van Lierop, D. (2010). ABRACADABRA in the hands of teachers: The effectiveness of a web-based literacy intervention in grade 1 language arts programs. Computers and Education, 55, 911-922.

Contact information: 


Karsten Steinhauer (Ph.D. Cognitive Neuroscience, Free University of Berlin/Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 2000)

My research focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of language and uses primarily the technique of event-related brain potentials (ERPs).  With respect to language acquisition, one main interest lies in how brain mechanisms underlying language processing change with increasing proficiency during late second language acquisition (SLA).  For instance, a current research program with Fred Genesee and Lydia White examines whether biological constraints, such as critical periods, prevent a late learner’s brain from processing the second language like native speakers. Other areas of interest include the respective learning environment, individual differences, and L1 grammar transfer. In addition to longitudinal studies in natural language, I have used artificial language learning paradigms (BROCANTO) as a test-tube model for SLA, also addressing issues of implicit versus explicit learning conditions.  Several other ERP projects explore the processing costs of code-switching in balanced and unbalanced French/English bilinguals, and employ the mismatch negativity (MMN) to study phoneme perception in bilinguals (with Linda Polka, Shari Baum, Heather Goad, Fred Genesee, and Debra Titone).

Selected References: 

Steinhauer, K., White, E. J., & Drury, J. E. (2009). Temporal dynamics of late second

language acquisition: Evidence from event-related brain potentials. Second Language

Research, 25 (1), 13-41.


Steinhauer, K. (2006).  How dynamic is second language acquisition?  Applied Psycholinguistics, 27 (1), 92-95.


Mah, J., Goad, H., Steinhauer, K. (2006). The trouble with [h]: Evidence from ERPs. In:

O’Brien, M.G. (ed.), GASLA-2006 Proceedings, 80-87. Somerville, MA, USA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.


Steinhauer, K. (2003).  Electrophysiological correlates of prosody and punctuation. Brain and Language, 86 (1), 142-164


Friederici, A.D., Steinhauer, K. & Pfeifer, E.  (2002). Brain signatures of artificial language acquisition: Evidence challenging the critical period hypothesis.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 99, 529-534


Steinhauer, K., Friederici, A.D., & Alter, K. (1999).  Brain potentials indicate immediate use of prosodic cues in natural speech processing.  Nature Neuroscience, 2, 191-196.


Contact Information: 


Elin Thordardottir (Ph.D. Communicative Disorders, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1998) 


My research focuses on the normal language development of monolingual and bilingual children, and in primary (specific) language impairment in children – its underlying  nature, clinical diagnosis and therapeutic intervention with various linguistic groups...

Past research has included studies on the normal development of Quebec French and of Icelandic, including examination of the diagnostic accuracy of various language measures for the identification of language impairment in these languages. In my work on primary (specific) language impairment, I have been particularly interested in the effect of working memory and processing limitations on children's language learning and use, including the role of processing measures for diagnostic purposes. Other previous research has focused on the efficacy of clinical language intervention, in particular for bilingual children. 

Current projects focus on the role of amount of bilingual exposure on bilingual development in children acquiring French and English as well as other language combinations. I am also currently conducting a study of the development of Icelandic as an L2 and am developing a language test for that population.



Elin Thordardottir (2011).  The relationship between bilingual exposure and vocabulary development.  International Journal of Bilingualism, DOI: 10.1177/1367006911403202, pp. 1-20.

Elin Thordardottir, Kehayia, E., Mazer, B., Lessard, N., Majnemer, A., Sutton, A., Trudeau, N., & Chilingarian, G. (2011).  Sensitivity and specificity of French language measures for the identification of Primary Language Impairment at age 5. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 54, 580-597.

Elin Thordardottir (2010).  Towards evidence based practice in language intervention for bilingual children. Journal of Communication Disorders, 43, 523-537.

Namazi, M. & Elin Thordardottir (2010).  A working memory, not a bilingual advantage in controlled attention.  International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 13, 597-616.

Elin Thordardottir, Kehayia, E., Lessard, N., Sutton, A. & Trudeau, N. (2010).  Typical performance on tests of language knowledge and language processing of French-speaking 5-year-olds. Canadian Journal of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, 34, 5-16.

Elin Thordardottir (2008).  Language specific effects of task demands on the manifestation of specific language impairment: A comparison of English and Icelandic.  Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 51, 922-937.

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Debra Titone (Ph.D. Experimental Psychology, State University of NY, Binghamton, 1995) 

I am interested in how the processes involved in, and experiences obtained during first and second language acquisition relate to: (1) monolingual and bilingual language processing in adults, (2) formulaic and figurative language competency in adults and children, (3) the ability to acquire novel linguistic information in adults, (4) the enhancement of general cognitive capacities such as cognitive control in adults (e.g., inhibition and working memory), and (5) language breakdown in special populations (e.g., schizophrenia).


Sample papers:


Whitford, V., & Titone, D. (in press). Second Language Experience Modulates First and Second Language Word Frequency Effects: Evidence from Eye Movement Measures of Natural Paragraph Reading. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.


Titone, D., Libben, M., Mercier, J., Whitford, V., & Pivneva, I. (2011). Bilingual Lexical Access during L1 Sentence Reading: The Effects of L2 Knowledge, Semantic Constraint, and L1–L2 Intermixing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, 1412-1431.


Westbury, C. & Titone, D. (2011). Idiom processing in younger and older adults: Age-related effects due to semantic decomposability, Psychology & Aging, 26, 467-474.


Levy, D.L., Coleman, M.A., Sung, H., Ji, F., Mendell, N.R., & Titone, D. (2010). The Genetic Basis of Thought Disorder and Language and Communication Disturbances in Schizophrenia. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 23, 176 – 192.


Libben, M. & Titone, D. (2009), Bilingual language processing in context: Evidence from eye movement recordings during reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 35, 381-390.


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Lydia White (Ph.D. Linguistics, McGill University, 1980) 

My research centers on the unconscious linguistic competence acquired by second language (L2) learners, with special consideration given to the role of Universal Grammar. A major goal is to arrive at a more precise specification of the nature of L2 mental representation, identifying those properties of the learner grammar which are constrained by universal principles and parameters, as well the role of other factors (mother tongue, processing, learnability considerations, age, etc.) in determining the nature of the representation. To explore these issues, I conduct experimental research into unconscious and abstract syntactic properties in the early stages of L2 acquisition and during the course of development, as well as examining the nature of L2 ultimate attainment.   


Selected References: 

Belikova, A. & L. White. 2009.  Evidence for the Fundamental Difference Hypothesis or not?  Island constraints revisited.  Studies in Second Language Acquisition 31: 1-24.

Goad, H. & L. White.  2008.  Prosodic structure and the representation of L2 functional morphology: a nativist approach.  Lingua 118: 577-594.

Lefebvre, C., L. White & C. Jourdan (eds.).  2006.  L2 acquisition and creole genesis: dialogues Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

White, L.  2003.  Second language acquisition and Universal GrammarCambridge: Cambridge University Press.

White, L.  2007.  Some puzzling features of L2 features.  In J. Liceras, H. Zobl & H. Goodluck (eds.), The role of features in second language acquisition (pp. 301-326). Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

White, L., E. Valenzuela, M. Kozlowska-Macgregor & Y-K. I. Leung.  2004.  Gender agreement in nonnative Spanish: evidence against failed features.  Applied Psycholinguistics 25: 105-133.

White, L., A. Belikova, P. Hagstrom, T. Kupisch & Ö. Özçelik. 2009. Restrictions on definiteness in L2 English.  Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Boston University Conference on  Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.


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