Established in September 2008, the Second Language Psycholinguistics Lab at Indiana University
is devoted to the study of how L2-learners learn to perceive, articulate and encode the sound system of the
new language. Of course, foreign accent is a direct result (an audible result) of how difficult this
With a background in linguistics, cognitive science and experimental psycholinguistics, we focus on the mechanisms and architecture underlying phonological processing and phonological acquisition - be it the native or a second language, adults or children, simultaneous or successive bilinguals; our work integrates different methods of investigation from perception and production, lexical access and word recognition.
Our research program covers all domains of phonology and how they are
acquired and represented in the bilingual's mind (the individual sounds, but also more
abstract levels like the syllable or sound combinations, higher-level dimensions like
prosody and rhythm, variability). At the moment, we are particularly interested in
understanding how phonological knowledge interacts with word recognition and word encoding
in a second language.
We are also interested in developing a research area investigating speakers of more than two languages, or L3 research - instead of only L2 - it could even be extended to L4, etc. There is a lot to do in this area. We also welcome work that deals with individual differences in the acquisition of phonology in a second (or third, etc.) language.
In the Second Language Psycholinguistics Lab, advanced grad students can
work and have access to experimental facilities like a recording booth, computers with
experimental software, statistical analysis packages, and several other utilities with which
the lab is equipped. It is not a huge lab, but it is a very well equipped one.
Students in the lab need to develop serious linguistic knowledge, especially in the domain of phonology and phonetics, a comprehensive understanding of psycholinguistic research methods and analysis tools (statistical analysis, understanding of experimental design issues), and a general curiosity about language processing and acquisition (L1, L2) as whole domains of inquiry.
In general, the experimental laboratory work we do requires a relatively technical approach to speech perception research: it means dealing with unfamiliar software, learning to manipulate sound files, edit recordings, learning to program a little, learning how to do statistics, and learning how to design and run experiments - including running participants.
The students in the department are heavily involved in research opportunities, through class projects, but also through direct collaboration with faculty members. There are several research groups and one-to-one collaborations ongoing. Some of our students also integrate their teaching practice into their research (and vice-versa).
Feel free to contact the Lab Director or any member of the lab for further information!
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