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Examining the processes underlying reading English as an additional language

   School of Social Sciences

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  Dr Kayleigh Warrington  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Half the world’s population has at least some knowledge of a second language, most typically, that second language is English. In fact, of the 1.35 billion speakers of English globally, 978.2 million are estimated to be second language (L2) speakers (Ethnologue, 2021) with the majority of conversations held in English thought to involve at least one non-native speaker. Given the number of non-native English speakers and the widespread use of English on the internet (around 60% of content on the internet is in English; W3Techs, 2021) and in scientific/technical texts (98% of scientific publications are written in English; Ramírez-Castañeda, 2020), one would expect bilingualism, and in particular, reading and processing of English as a non-native language, to be a core issue in psycholinguistic research. However, despite a recent growth in research examining the mental representations of multiple language in bilinguals/multilinguals (e.g. Assche, Duyck, & Hartsuiker, 2012) our knowledge of the reading process in non-native readers of English remains limited.

There are numerous interesting and complex issues to be explored in the area of reading English as a non-native language. The extent to which reading processes differ in native and non-native speakers is likely to depend on a number of factors, including the nature and structure of the individual’s first language and its distance from English, as well as language proficiency and level of language exposure. Drawing on the supervisory team’s existing collaborative network, within this project there is the possibility to recruit participants with a range of first languages including Mandarin Chinese (in collaboration with Dr Fang Xie, Zhejiang Normal University) and Arabic (Dr Maryam AlJassmi, Zayed University).

Potential research questions:

  1. Do the processes underlying word recognition and sentence processing differ in native and non-native readers of English (orthographic processing, lexical processing, post-lexical integration, parafoveal pre-processing etc.)?
  2. Do individual differences in English proficiency and language exposure modulate any differences in these processes?
  3. How does the nature of the first language shape the processing of English as a non-native language?

We are particularly interested in hearing from candidates who can help to shape a project within this broad topic area. The ideal candidate will have an understanding of models of word recognition or models of eye movement control during reading, experience in the use of psycholinguistic/ cognitive psychology experimental methods (e.g. word recognition tasks, lexical decision, grammaticality judgments) and a keen interest in learning to use eye-tracking methodologies. 

Entry requirements

Candidates entering from Undergraduate must hold or expect to hold at least a 2.1 degree in Psychology or similar discipline. Candidates entering from Postgraduate must hold or expect to hold at least a merit/commendation with their UG or PG qualification in Psychology or related discipline.

How to apply

For a step-by-step guide and to make an application, please visit NTU's how to apply page.

Funding Notes

This project is self-funded but applicants can contact project leaders to discuss potential funding opportunities.

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