PhD Candidate on Individual Differences in L2 Grammar Learning at the Donders Centre for Cognition

Updated: 5 months ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: 29 Nov 2022

How adults learn the grammar of a second language (L2) is not yet well understood and subject to debate. You will investigate the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying L2 grammar learning. You will particularly test the hypothesis that there are qualitative individual differences, that is to say, different people use different cognitive mechanisms and brain systems when they acquire a new grammar.

It is still an unresolved question how we learn the grammar of a new language. Are the neural substrates and cognitive mechanisms involved in it the same as those involved in, for instance, word learning? Is grammatical knowledge based on abstract rules, or rather on analogy to earlier encountered utterances? Does it make a difference whether we learn a new language in a classroom or simply by exposure and immersion? These are only some of the questions that are intensively debated among researchers. Possibly, there is no such thing as a 'one size fits all' approach: different individuals may learn grammar in different ways, and different learning situations may evoke different learning principles as well.

In four separate experimental studies, you will make use of behavioural and electrophysiological (EEG) techniques to get to the bottom of how different learning systems are used for L2 grammar learning. We expect the results of the project to represent a big step towards a better understanding of individual and situational variability in statistical learning (i.e. not only in terms of language).

This position is part of the ERC Consolidator project 'MultiMemoryL2 - Multiple routes to memory for a second language' recently awarded to Dr Kristin Lemhöfer. You will work with the members of that project in a team. The supervisory team consists of Dr Kristin Lemhöfer, Prof. Herbert Schriefers, and Dr Vitória Piai.

PhD candidates at the Donders Institute are required to devote 10% of their time to teaching or other academic activities (e.g., lab management).

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