A strategic partnership for the study of Portuguese in multilingual settings

Month: November 2021

Science Awards: Congratulations to Ana Lúcia Santos

Congratulations to Professor Ana Lúcia Santos for winning the University of Lisbon – Caixa Geral de Depósitos Science Award 2020 in the Language Sciences category. Ana Lúcia is a specialist in language acquisition research and a member of HL2C Steering Committee.

The awards recognise scientific excellence across a wide range of fields and serve to promote dissemination of cutting-edge research in international academic journals.

Nominations for the 2021 edition of this prestigious award have recently been opened. Nominations will close on 15th December at 17:00 (Lisbon time). Further information about the award can be found on the University of Lisbon’s website.

Scientific Awards University of Lisbon/Caixa Geral de Depósitos | Applications open until December 15

Launch of the British National Corpus 2014

Many congratulations to our colleagues at Lancaster’s Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS), one of the HL2C founding institutes, for the official launch of the British National Corpus 2014.

The British National Corpus 2014 (BNC2014, website) is a large collection of samples of contemporary British English language use, gathered from a range of real-life contexts. The BNC2014 contains millions of words of spoken and written English and is an exciting new resource for research and teaching on contemporary British English.

The BNC2014 is being gathered by Lancaster University and Cambridge University Press. It is the successor to the original British National Corpus, which was gathered in the early 1990s. By comparing the two corpora, researchers will be able to shed light on how British English may have changed over the last two decades. The BNC2014 is now available together with its predecessor the BNC1994 via #LancBox X.

The written BNC was official launched on November 19, 2021. Please see below for a short summary on the launch event. For more information on the BNC2014, please the CASS website or contact Dr Vaclav Brezina.

Celebrating the Written BNC2014: Lancaster Castle event

On 19 November 2021, The ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) organised an event to celebrate the launch of the Written British National Corpus 2014 (BNC2024). The event was live-streamed from a very special location: the medieval Lancaster Castle.  There were about 20 participants on the site and more than 1,200 participants joined the event online.  Dr Vaclav Brezina started the event and welcomed the participants from over 30 different countries. After the official welcome by Professor Elena Semino and Professor Paul Connolly, a series of invited talks were delivered by prominent speakers from the UK and abroad. The talks covered topics such as corpus development, corpora in the classroom, corpora and fiction and the historical development of English.

Please visit the CASS website for more information on the event, including slides.

Faculty positions at Lancaster University

Job opportunity at Lancaster University (Deadline for applications: 13 December 2021 – please share widely) 

Lancaster University (Psychology Department) is currently advertising two positions at Senior Lecturer/Reader level (US equivalent: Associate Professor). The search area is broad, including infancy and early development, using both behavioural and neuroscience approaches.

We have fantastic, shared research facilities for infant development in our Babylab, which covers the entire ground floor of our dedicated research building (see http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/babylab/), with several Tobii eye trackers, 4 EGI EEG systems, fNIRS, head mounted eye tracking, motion capture, BioPac, and an observation room, plus excellent technical support. Our dedicated administrator maintains an extensive database of contacts, and there is free parking for visiting parents outside the lab. We are organizing one of the largest infancy conferences in Europe every year (Lancaster International Conference on Infant and Early Child Development – LCICD, http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/lcicd/ ).

 Current research interests in the group comprise early language, social and cognitive development in typically and atypically (ASD) developing infants and children. Please see our research pages for more details: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/psychology/research/

Lancaster University is consistently ranked in the top 10 in the main UK league tables, and Lancaster has a high quality of life with beautiful surrounding countryside, good schools, and excellent transport links (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow 2.5h, Manchester airport 1.5h, all by direct train).

If you have any questions, you can email me (g.westermann@lancaster.ac.uk) or the Head of Department, Kate Cain (psychology.hod@lancaster.ac.uk). Full details are here: https://hr-jobs.lancs.ac.uk/Vacancy.aspx?ref=A3553

HL2C Seminar: Elma Kerz (Aachen), New insights into the role of statistical learning abilities in second language learning

Our next HL2C seminar will take place on Wednesday 15th December from 12 noon to 1pm GMT (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London). This talk is a joint initiative with Lancaster’s SLLAT Research Group.


Elma Kerz (Aachen)


New insights into the role of statistical learning abilities in second language learning

How to join:

Our seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.


One of the major advances in the language sciences across theoretical orientations has been in recognizing that natural languages consist of complex, variable patterns occurring in sequence, and as such can be described in terms of statistical regularities or distributional properties among language units (Christiansen & Chater, 2016; Gibson, 2019). Learning a language thus heavily depends on figuring out these complex structured patterns inherent in the input and there is a growing recognition that such accumulated statistical knowledge constitutes an essential part of our language knowledge (Rebuschat, 2013; Ellis, 2019). This is supported by extensive empirical evidence from the literature on statistical learning (henceforth SL). SL is succinctly defined as a powerful mechanism for perceiving and assimilating the range of regularities in the input, thereby shaping fundamental aspects of human cognition and behavior (Armstrong et al., 2017; Sherman et al., 2020).

A number of previous studies based on within-subject designs have examined the relationship between individual differences in SL ability and variations in language learning and processing, in both child and adult populations and in adult second-language learner populations. The main assumption underlying these studies is that individuals can be divided into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ statistical learners, with the expectation that ‘good’ statistical learners will show better performance across a wide range of language domains and population groups, such as early language acquisition (Lany et al., 2018), word predictability (Kaufman et al. 2010), reading (Arciuli, 2018), processing of complex syntactic structures in children and adults (Kidd & Arciuli, 2017; Misyak & Christiansen, 2012) and online processing of multiword combinations in second-language learners (Kerz & Wiechmann, 2019). However, this assumption has recently been challenged and there is now increasing recognition of the need to consider a broader ecological perspective on the diversity of statistics that must be accommodated and the challenges associated with the theoretical construct of good statistical learners (Bogaerts et al., 2021).

In this talk, I will present my recent studies aimed at addressing this ecological perspective and advancing our understanding of the role of SL in language learning and processing. I will show how this line of research can benefit from synthesizing experimental studies based on within-subject designs with natural language processing and computational techniques (see Rebuschat et al. (2017) for background reading).

1 References

1. Armstrong, B. C., Frost, R., Christiansen, M. H. (2017). The long road of statistical learning research: Past, present and future.. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2017;372(1711):20160047.

2. Arciuli, J. (2018). Reading as statistical learning. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 49(3S), 634-643.

3. Bogaerts, L., Siegelman, N., Christiansen, M. H., & Frost, R. (2021). Is there such a thing as a ‘good statistical learner’?. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

4. Christiansen, M. H., & Chater, N. (2016). Creating language: Integrating evolution, acquisition, and processing. MIT Press.

5. Ellis, N. C. (2019). Essentials of a theory of language cognition. The Modern Language Journal, 103, 39-60.

6. Gibson, E., Futrell, R., Piandadosi, S. T., Dautriche, I., Mahowald, K., Bergen, L., & Levy, R. (2019). How efficiency shapes human language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 5. 389-407.

7. Kaufman, S. B., DeYoung, C. G., Gray, J. R., Jim´enez, L., Brown, J., & Mackintosh, N. (2010). Implicit learning as an ability. Cognition, 116(3), 321-340.

8. Kerz, E., & Wiechmann, D. (2019). Effects of statistical learning ability on the second language processing of multiword sequences. In International Conference on Computational and CorpusBased Phraseology (pp. 200-214). Springer, Cham.

9. Kidd, E., & Arciuli, J. (2016). Individual differences in statistical learning predict children’s comprehension of syntax. Child Development, 87(1), 184-193.

10. Lany, J., Shoaib, A., Thompson, A., & Estes, K. G. (2018). Infant statistical-learning ability is related to real-time language processing. Journal of child language, 45(2), 368-391.

11. Misyak, J. B., & Christiansen, M. H. (2012). Statistical learning and language: An individual differences study. Language Learning, 62(1), 302-331.

12. Rebuschat P (2013) Statistical learning. In: Robinson P (ed.) The Routledge encyclopedia of second language acquisition. London: Routledge, pp. 612–15.

13. Rebuschat, P. E., Detmar, M., & McEnery, T. (2017). Language learning research at the intersection of experimental, computational and corpus-based approaches. Language Learning, 67(S1), 6-13.

14. Sherman, B. E., Graves, K. N., & Turk-Browne, N. B. (2020). The prevalence and importance of statistical learning in human cognition and behavior. Current opinion in behavioral sciences, 32, 15-20.

Porto series of public lectures

The University of Porto is hosting a series of two public lectures as part of their Master’s Degree in Portuguese as a Second Language/Foreign Language, with the support of CLUP. The lectures focus on Portuguese and its relationship with other languages in CPLP countries. For more information, please contact Professor Isabel Margarida Duarte.

Session 1:

Date: 28th September

Presenter: Professor Karin Noemi Rühle Indart (National University of East Timor)

Title: A Oficialização da Língua Portuguesa em Timor-Leste e os Desafios de Implementação da Política Linguística no Sistema de Educação

Click on this link for more information

Session 2:

Date: 16th November

Presenter: Professor Liliana Inverno (University of Coimbra)

Title: Contacto linguístico e restruturação da gramática da língua portuguesa em Angola.

PhD Defense: Aníbal José Ribeiro Serra, University of Evora

On Friday, 12th November, 2021, Aníbal José Ribeiro defended her PhD thesis in Linguistics  at the University of Evora.


O Português, língua de herança nos Estados Unidos: O caso de Hudson, Massachusetts


Thesis Directors:

Maria Filomena Gonçalves

Joseph Abraham Levi


Members of the PhD committee:

Isabel Margarida de Oliveira Duarte (University of Porto)

Manuel Célio Conceição (University of Algarve)