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Research Projects




Re-examining Primary, Secondary and Cumulative Effects of Processing Instruction on L2 acquisition of English

(with Alessandro Benati, University of Portsmouth and Dietmar Roehm, University of Salzburg)

Period: 2017 -

Project description: This project involves series of experiments investigating the primary, secondary and cumulative effects of Processing Instruction and its components on the acquisition of English linguistic features by using eye tracking measurements. 

Young English Language Learners’ Brains and the Effectiveness of Processing Instruction (PI) 

(with Dietmar Roehm, University of Salzburg)

Period: 2016 -


Project description: We investigate whether PI would have distinct effects as measured by neural and behavioural (performance) measures of morphosyntactic processing and how this intervention would impact neural responses. Target population are English as second and/or third language school-age children with L1 and/or L2 German.

L2 Grammar Acquisition in the Austrian EFL Classroom: the Case of Processing Instruction for L2 and L3 Learners of English

Period: 2016 -

Funded by: Rectorate of the University of Salzburg and City and Land of Salzburg 


Project description: 

This project investigates the case of Processing Instruction for L2 and L3 learners of English : evidence from behaviourial data

Austrian ELT teachers’ beliefs about effective grammar instruction: At the crossroads between teaching experience and research-informedness.

Active Sentence Construction: an Eye-Tracking Study

(with Mariam Kostandyan, Ghent University and Drangen Rangelov, Mattingley's Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at The University of Queensland)

Period: 2015-2016

Project description: This project (conducted as M.A. project of M.Kostandyan at the LMU) investigated the eye movement behavior of L1 (first language) readers and L2 (second language) readers through behavioral data and a novel paradigm (active sentence construction (ASC) task). The aim was to find out about group differences in speed of constructing the sentences and to investigate the influence of linguistic characteristic of word (i.e., frequency of word from COCA) and physical characteristic of word (i.e., length of word), as well as to find more about the results from the first fixations in terms of parts of speech. 

Processing Instruction and the Age Factor

(with Alessandro Benati, University of Portsmouth)

Period: 2012-2015

Funded by: The Leverhulme Trust (UK) (incl. a 9-month visiting fellowship for T.Angelovska)


Project description: This project aimed at measuring the effects of Processing Instruction on the acquisition of English simple past tense among school age and adult native speakers of German. This project addressed the question of whether age plays a significant role in the effectiveness of a type of grammar instruction called ‘processing instruction’ (VanPatten, 1996, 2004, 2007). VanPatten’s model of input processing (1996) is the theoretical base that directly informs the practices of processing instruction (PI). Input processing refers to ‘the initial process by which learners connect grammatical forms with their meanings as well as how they interpret the roles of nouns in relationship to verbs’ (VanPatten, 2004: 5). The main purpose of Processing Instruction is ‘to help learners circumvent ineffective processing strategies or to instill appropriate processing strategies, so that they derive better intake from the input’ (Lee and Benati, 2007: 16). We conducted two studies that systematically measured the effects of PI on the acquisition of English simple past tense among school-age and adult native speakers of German in relation to the gae factor and cognitive task demands. 

Predicting Outcomes in Third Language Acquisition

(with Angela Hahn, LMU Munich)

Period: 2012 - 2015 

Funded by: Bavarian Research Alliance/BayFOR (Germany)


Project description: This study examines the negative[1] interlanguage transfer[2] of the verb-second (henceforth V2) by adult speakers with L1 Russian, advanced L2 German and at either elementary[3] or intermediate L3 levels of English, whereby L2 and L3 were acquired subsequently and formally. It questions if and which of the existing L3 transfer models will offer the best prediction for the source of negative interlanguage transfer by responding to two existing gaps: a) taking into consideration the dominant language used on a daily basis and b) comparing spoken and written data.

[1] The terms "facilitative/ non-facilitative" and "positive /negative" transfer are used interchangeably in this chapter.

[2] "Transfer" and "cross-linguistic influence" are used interchangeably in this chapter although the author is aware of the existing distinction, i.e. "transfer" (Gass & Selinker, 1983), as opposed to "crosslinguistic influence" which takes a broader perspective of the phenomenon in question (Sharwood Smith & Kellerman, 1986) referring to the performance level. The interchangeable use of these two terms in this paper is justified by the specific cases where the trigger for the transferred property happens on the mental representational level, but is realized on the performance level. See "data analysis" section for a detailed account of such cases.

[3] The terms "beginners" and "elementary" will be used interchangeably.

Language Awareness Raising for L3 Grammar Learning and Teaching 

(with Angela Hahn, LMU Munich)

Period: 2012 - 2015 

Funded by: LMU Excellence Funding Scheme ("Forschung entdecken")  upon internal competitive selection and internal funds of the Language Centre at LMU (Germany)

Project description: As the consciousness about certain grammar forms and rules often relies on learners’ prior language knowledge, among many other factors, there is a need for exploring the roles of language awareness in the process of L3 grammar learning and teaching. The aim of our project is to illustrate ways of successful language awareness raising in one-to-one (teacher-learner) language reflection sessions (LRSs) conducted in a face-to-face setting. The aim of the LRSs is to help learners become aware of particular language problems they had encountered during the L3 writing. To achieve this, we analyse the performance of the language teacher when identifying concrete instances where opportunities to raise language awareness were met and/or missed and by looking at L3 learners’ ways of reflecting on grammar. We base our empirical analyses on two types of data: text writings from L3 learners and corresponding language reflection sessions in which learners reflect on their language used in the written texts. 

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