1st Edition

Understanding Variability in Second Language Acquisition, Bilingualism, and Cognition A Multi-Layered Perspective

Edited By Kristin Kersten, Adam Winsler Copyright 2023
    374 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This collection brings together linguistic, psychological, and sociological perspectives reflecting on the relationships and interactions of the multilayered factors impacting second language development and cognitive competence.

    The book advocates a system approach as a counterpoint to existing scholarship, which has tended to focus on a small set of variables. The 13 chapters demonstrate the ways in which cognitive and linguistic development are intrinsically linked, occurring within a nested structure of multiple levels: individual neuro-cognitive systems and processes, individual engagement with the social world, and the wider social and institutional environments and cultural contexts affecting the belief systems and linguistic conventions of social groups. The volume begins by outlining the theoretical and methodological foundations before moving into a more focused look at the interplay of these different variables at the macro, meso, and micro levels. A final section features two commentary chapters from linguistics and psychology, respectively, synthesizing insights from earlier chapters and situating the collection within broader scholarship on linguistic and cognitive development, theoretical and methodological implications, and discussions of avenues for future empirical research.

    This book will be of particular interest to scholars in second language acquisition, psycholinguistics, cognition, psychology, and sociology.


    List of Contributors


    PART I: Theoretical and methodological considerations

    Chapter 1: Investigating cognitive-linguistic development in SLA: Theoretical and methodological challenges for empirical research

    Kristin Kersten, Werner Greve

    Chapter 2: Lost in Translation? On some key features of dynamical systems theorizing invoked in SLA research

    Anke Lenzing, Manfred Pienemann, Howard Nicholas

    Chapter 3: How many moderators does is take till we know... that too many bilingual advantage effects have died?

    Julia Festman, Sophia Czapka, Adam Winsler

    PART II: The interplay of variables on macro-, meso-, and micro-levels

    Chapter 4: The Proximity of Stimulation Hypothesis: Investigating the interplay of social and instructional variables with the cognitive-linguistic skills of young L2 learners

    Kristin Kersten

    Chapter 5: Becoming bilingual in Miami, USA: Predictors and outcomes of speed of English acquisition for low-income, dual-language learners

    Adam Winsler

    Chapter 6: Immigrant achievement and language use across countries: The role of family background and education systems

    Janna Teltemann, Maximilian Brinkmann, Nora Huth, Reinhard Schunck

    Chapter 7: The interplay between learner-internal variables and levels of anxiety and enjoyment among Spanish EFL learners

    Jean-Marc Dewaele

    Chapter 8: Early bilingualism increases the likelihood of taking (and mastering) foreign language courses later in secondary school

    My Viet Ha Nguyen, Adam Winsler

    Chapter 9: From differential to dynamic: The role of working memory in second language (L2) learning

    Ellen J. Serafini

    Chapter 10: Can type of schooling compensate for low SES? Investigating effects of instruction and SES on cognitive skills

    Ann-Christin Bruhn, Lisa Miller, Claudia Mähler, Katharina Ponto, Kristin Kersten

    PART III: Synthesis

    Chapter 11: Commentary on "Understanding variability in second language acquisition, bilingualism, and cognition": A Second Language Acquisition perspective

    Gabriele Pallotti

    Chapter 12: Commentary: Toward a developmental science of language acquisition

    Werner Greve




    • Contributors Max Brinkmann is a research assistant in in the project "Education Systems and Ethnic Educational Inequality" at the University of Hildesheim. After his studies in Sociology (B.A.) and Economics (B.Sc.), he gained a M.Sc. in Behavioral and Social Sciences from the University of Groningen. His research interests include educational sociology and quantitative methods.


    • Ann-Christin Bruhn is a research assistant at the English Department at Hildesheim University. Her research focuses on SLA and bilingual education. She coordinated the interdisciplinary longitudinal projects "FLINK – Foreign language learning in inclusive contexts" and "SMILE – Studies on Multilingualism in Language Education", which aim to shed light on the role of internal and external factors in the acquisition of a second language by young mono- and multilingual learners in different pre- and primary school contexts.


    • Sophia Czapka is a researcher at the Leibniz-Centre General Linguistics in Berlin after completing her doctoral dissertation at the University of Potsdam. Her research focuses on the language and literary development of bilingual and multilingual children. She is also interested in their cognitive abilities, specifically their executive functions and working memory.


    • Jean-Marc Dewaele is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism. He has published widely on individual differences. He is former president of the International Association of Multilingualism and the European Second Language Association and he is General Editor of Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. He won the Robert Gardner Award for Excellence in Second Language and Bilingualism Research (2016) from the International Association of Language and Social Psychology.


    • Julia Festman is professor of Multilingualism at the Pedagogical University Tyrol in Austria. She studied in Germany (Bamberg, Berlin) and Israel (Ph.D.), and worked in France, the UK and Germany (Magdeburg, Habilitation in Potsdam). Her research covers psycholinguistic/neuroscientific approaches to acquisition, learning and processing of language(s). She published on multilingual language processing, the diversity of bilinguals, the bilingual advantage debate, raising multilinguals, diversity and primary school education.


    • Werner Greve is Professor of Developmental Psychology. His research examines processes of development and adaptation across the lifespan, including (among other issues) the theoretical and empirical relationship between coping and development, evolutionary developmental psychology, and the developmental significance of critical life events. He is particularly interested both in methodological and theoretical foundations of empirical research as well as in the empirical investigation of developmental processes (e.g., goal regulation, adaptation). He is Co-PI of several interdisciplinary projects in various fields, including multilingualism, inclusion, and criminology.


    • Nora Huth-Stöckle is a research assistant at the University of Wuppertal in the project "Education Systems and Ethnic Educational Inequality". She studied Social Sciences and Economics at the University of Cologne (B.Sc.) and Sociology at the University of Duisburg-Essen (M.A.). In her research, she investigates attitudes towards migrants in cross-national comparison and intergroup relations. Her research interests furthermore include ethnic inequality in education and quantitative methods.
    • Anke Lenzing is professor of English language teaching at Innsbruck University. She has previously taught at Paderborn University and has been a visiting scholar at Flinders University. Her research engages with psycholinguistic aspects of (instructed) second language acquisition, and her publications focus on issues such as early L2 acquisition, the role of formulaic sequences in instructed SLA, L2 transfer, and the interface between comprehension and production in SLA.


    • Claudia Mähler is professor of educational psychology and diagnostics at the University of Hildesheim. In her research, she is interested in precursors of school achievement and learning disabilities as well as assessment and intervention of learning disabilities with a focus on the development and training of working memory. She is the head of the research and intervention center "KiM – Kind im Mittelpunkt" (Child in focus) at the Institute for Psychology at the University of Hildesheim.


    • Lisa Miller is a psychologist and research assistant at the University of Hildesheim. In her research, she investigates determinants of literacy as well as institutional prevention and intervention methods to facilitate early literacy acquisition for children at risk. Her research interests include inclusive education and its methodological challenges.


    • My Viet Ha Nguyen is a doctoral student in Developmental, Cognitive, and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Houston. Her research interests include the neural basis of bilingualism and second language acquisition. She investigates the relationship between the bilingual experience and cognitive control, as well as the brain mechanism underlying this relationship.


    • Howard Nicholas is Adjunct Professor in the School of Education at La Trobe University. He has been President of the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia and Editor of the Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. He has also taught at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; Concordia University, Montreal; the University of Western Australia and Paderborn University. His has researched child and adult second language acquisition, literacy development in additional languages, inclusive and bilingual education as well as his work on the Multiplicity framework of the communicative repertoire.


    • Gabriele Pallotti is professor of Language teaching methodology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. His research focusses on interlanguage development, linguistic complexity, morphology, L2 interaction, methodology and epistemology in applied linguistics. He coordinates the project Observing interlanguage and is the associate editor of the Eurosla Studies Series (Language Science Press).


    • Manfred Pienemann is professor emeritus of English linguistics at Paderborn University and co-chair of Linguistic Engineering Co. He has held positions in linguistics and applied linguistics at the Universities of Newcastle (UK), the Australian National University, the University of Sydney, and the Universities of Hamburg and Passau (Germany). He is the co-founder of PacSLRF and co-editor of the PALART series.


    • Katharina Ponto is a researcher in the field of Instructed Second Language Acquisition at the University of Hildesheim. Her research interest focuses on Vocabulary Acquisition, Bilingual Education and Multilingualism. She coordinated the SMILE-project (Studies on Multilingualism in Language Education) and the FLINK-project (Foreign Language Learning in Inclusive Contexts) at Hildesheim University, which focus on investigating the role of internal and external factors in the acquisition of a second language in different primary and preschool settings.


    • Reinhard Schunck is professor of sociology at the University of Wuppertal. His research examines how migration and family related processes shape patterns of social inequality. In addition to that, he has a focus on quantitative methods. He is a principal investigator of the project "Education Systems and Ethnic Educational Inequality" which has the aim to harmonize data from several large-scale school assessments in order to build a better database for causal-oriented analyses on education systems and their effects on inequality.


    • Ellen J. Serafini is Associate Professor of Spanish Applied Linguistics at George Mason University. Her research takes a holistic view of language learning with a focus on exploring the dynamic interaction among individual differences and pedagogical and social factors in diverse settings and their variable impact on short- and long-term language development. In the classroom, Dr. Serafini integrates principles of Task-Based Language Teaching, critical language pedagogy, and service-learning to optimize outcomes.


    • Janna Teltemann is professor of educational sociology at the University of Hildesheim. In her research, she examines how features of education systems shape patterns of educational inequality. She is a principal investigator of the project "Education Systems and Ethnic Educational Inequality" which has the aim to harmonize data from several large-scale school assessments in order to build a better database for causal-oriented analyses on education systems and their effects on inequality.


    Kristin Kersten is professor of Language Acquisition and English Language Teaching at Hildesheim University, Germany. Her research and publications focus on psycholinguistics, bilingualism and cognition, bilingual education (CLIL, immersion), and instructed second language acquisition. She headed the interdisciplinary research projects Early Language and Intercultural Acquisition Studies (ELIAS), an EU Comenius project, and Studies on Multilingualism in Language Education (SMILE) on language acquisition in bilingual preschool and primary education.

    Adam Winsler is Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. He has published more than 100 journal articles and 2 books on topics including English-Spanish bilingualism, bilingual education, L1 language maintenance and loss, and the academic performance over time of ethnically diverse dual language learners and immigrant students in poverty in the USA. He also does research on children’s private speech, selfregulation, and executive function and was the former editor of Early Childhood Research Quarterly.