A strategic partnership for the study of Portuguese in multilingual settings

Month: February 2022

HL2C Seminar: Magdalena Grose-Hodge (Birmingham), Are the heritage and dominant languages of early bilinguals less complex and less fluent than that of monolinguals?

Our next HL2C seminar will take place on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, from 12pm to 1pm (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London). The talk is co-organized with Lancaster’s SLLAT Research Group.


Magdalena Grose-Hodge (The University of Birmingham)


Are the heritage and dominant languages of early bilinguals less complex and less fluent than that of monolinguals? A comparison of linguistic abilities of pre-adolescent Polish Heritage Speakers and monolingual controls.

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.


Background: With an estimated half of the world using more than one language in everyday life, bilingualism is a norm rather than an exception. However, researchers in the field of language acquisition and processing traditionally focused on monolinguals and viewed bilingual speakers simply as “two monolinguals in one person”. Research into differences between monolingual and bilingual performance and processing is not only relatively new but has also been producing conflicting findings, which fuels the existing social ambivalence relating to the acquisition of two languages in childhood. As a result, many parents and teachers question whether the effort needed to maintain both languages is worth the outcome or worry that speaking a minority language at home may hamper their offspring’s achievement in the dominant language as children “may get confused”. However, studying heritage speakers (here defined as early bilinguals of a minority language (Montrul, 2006:161) is important not only from the point of educational policymaking but it is also central to our understanding of the architecture of language as it can offer a window into bilingual minds. Therefore, the population, which was first studied mainly by applied linguists, is now becoming of interest to theoretical linguists investigating the role of input and maturational factors in language acquisition.

What makes heritage speakers an interesting group is that they acquire their HL as their first language, yet their linguistic competence is often different from that of monolingual native speakers, which has led to the formulation of the Incomplete Acquisition Hypothesis (Polinsky, 2006; Montrul, 2008). According to this, certain patterns, especially those that typically develop later on in life, are not fully acquired in HS’s minds. The term, however, received a great amount of criticism (see Otheguy, 2016; Kupisch and Rothman, 2018), and has now been abandoned in favour of “divergent acquisition” (Polinsky, 2018), which emphasises differences without suggesting deficiencies. It is this divergent competence that is of interest in this paper and 3 aspects of proficiency are discussed in the context of speech samples: fluency, syntactic complexity and lexical diversity. Additionally, receptive grammar is also tapped into as there is a documented imbalance between HS’ receptive and productive skills with the former usually being much stronger.

The study: focuses on 7-9-year-old preadolescents growing up in Polish families living in the UK, whose speech samples have been collected, transcribed and coded for lexical and syntactic complexity, and fluency, and subsequently analysed. The results have been compared to monolingual control groups through multiple regression modelling.

Results: Although bilinguals are slightly less fluent, they generally fall within the norms for monolingual speakers for most variables. The most interesting finding, though, is that their language appears to be more complex syntactically than that of monolinguals in both heritage and dominant languages. This provides further evidence that HS’ language is not incomplete but that the outcome is divergent from that of monolinguals. It could also shed light on the role of creativity and imitation in language acquisition and cultural transmission, and provide further evidence that children imitate selectively when they have a better understanding of the function of a given construction or linguistic element. When the function is not fully understood, they imitate more faithfully (Klinger, Mayor and Bannard, 2016).


Klinger, J., Mayor, J. and Bannard, C. (2016) ‘Children’s Faithfulness in Imitating Language Use Varies Cross-Culturally, Contingent on Prior Experience’, Child Development, 87(3), pp. 820–833. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12503.

Kupisch, T. and Rothman, J. (2018) ‘Terminology matters! Why difference is not incompleteness and how early child bilinguals are heritage speakers’, International Journal of Bilingualism, 22(5), pp. 564–582. doi: 10.1177/1367006916654355.

Montrul, S. (2008) ‘Incomplete Acquisition in Bilingualism: Re-examining the Age Factor’, in. Montrul, S. A. (2006) ‘Incomplete acquisition in bilingualism as an instance of language change’, pp. 379–400. doi: 10.1075/LALD.42.22MON.

Otheguy, R. (2016) ‘The linguistic competence of secondgeneration bilinguals’, pp. 301–319. doi: 10.1075/RLLT.9.16OTH.

Polinsky, M. (2006) ‘Incomplete acquisition: American Russian’, Journal of Slavic Linguistics, 14, pp. 191–262.

Polinsky, M. (2018) Heritage Languages and Their Speakers. Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781107252349.

Congratulations to HL2C Vice Director Cristina Flores: Habilitation (agregação)

Congratulations to HL2C Vice Director Professor Cristina Flores for successfully concluding her Portuguese Habilitation (agregação) examination earlier this week. The Habilitation is the highest university degree in European countries such as Germany and Portugal, requiring excellence in research, teaching, and academic leadership.

The public examination took place on February 21 and 22, with a panel consisting of Professor Isabel Ermida (Chair, Minho), Professor Anabela Gonçalves (Lisbon), Professor Georg Kaiser (Konstanz), Professor Jürgen Meisel (Hamburg), Professor Patrick Rebuschat (Lancaster University), and Professor Augusto Soares da Silva (Católica). The panel commended Cristina for her outstanding track-record in research, teaching and service and approved the candidate unanimously.


Standing, from left to right: Professor Anabela Gonçalves (Lisbon), Professor Cristina Flores (Minho), Professor Isabel Ermida (Minho), and Professor Augusto Soares da Silva (Católica). Participating via Zoom, on screen, from left to right: Professor Patrick Rebuschat (Lancaster University), Professor Jürgen Meisel (Hamburg), and Professor Georg Kaiser (Konstanz).

Post-doctoral position at NOVA Lisbon: Experimental approaches L1 and L2 acquisition and processing

NOVA’s Linguistics Research Center (Centro de Linguística da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, CLUNL) is welcoming applications for a post-doctoral position.

The successful applicant will be based in CLUNL’s Research Group in Formal and Experimental Linguistics (LIFE) and contribute experimental research on the acquisition and processing of native and non-native languages, with a particular focus on (i) the linguistic development of monolingual and multilingual children from socially disadvantaged contexts and (ii) the linguistic development of Portuguese language learners in different contexts.

The official job announcement, with application deadline and salary information, can be found here (published in Portuguese). For questions, please contact the chair of the hiring committee directly, Professor Maria Lobo, maria.lobo@fcsh.unl.pt.



Call for papers: Lancaster Postgraduate Student Conference

The 16th annual Lancaster Linguistics and English Language Postgraduate Conference will be held on June 27, 2022. The theme is “New Perspectives in Linguistics: Innovation and Dynamics.” The conference is a great opportunity for postgraduate students (pursuing an MA or a PhD) to present their work to their peers in a supportive and inclusive space. For enquiries please email Maya Dewhurst, m.dewhurst1@lancaster.ac.uk,

Conference website

MA and PhD students are invited to submit abstracts on linguistic research, in particular those that have used innovative methods. The following panels have been proposed and you may address your abstract to any one of these. If your abstract does not fit one, please submit it anyway; we are happy to consider abstracts on topics not listed below.

• Cognitive-Functional Linguistics and Typology
• Corpus and Computational Linguistics
• Discourse Studies
• Phonetics and Phonology
• Pragmatics and Literacy Studies
• TESOL and Language Pedagogy

Abstract submission deadline: Monday 11th April 2022: Link For Submission

Word limit for submissions: 300 words exl. references

Talks should be 20 minutes long, with 5 minutes allocated for Q&A (25 minute total time) in a PowerPoint format.

When submitting an abstract, you may choose to apply for a poster presentation or a longer talk. Upon acceptance, more information regarding poster dimensions and format will be provided.

Proposal Format

Abstracts should be submitted through the designated form. All submissions should include a title and a full abstract. Please note the following word limits for submissions:

Title: 20 Words
Abstract: 300 Words

Evaluation of Proposals

Upon receipt by the organising committee, all submitted abstracts will be stripped of identifying markers (name, university, etc.) and sent to a team of peer reviewers. When reviewing abstracts, the team will take into account the following:

  • Suitability to conference theme
  • Theoretical relevance
  • Research design
  • Direction of analysis/conclusions
  • Structure and clarity

Sample Submission

Title: Writing practices across the lifespan: the transition from school to university

Abstract: Educational transitions have been described as significant life events involving self-redefinitions, the acquisition of new social roles and identities and decisions about future and education (Ecclestone, Biesta & Hughes, 2010).  However, little is known about the role of writing in these transitional experiences, especially for marginalized groups in educational settings. Similarly, the development of writing abilities across contexts and throughout the lifespan has been scarcely explored (Bazerman, 2020; Bazerman, 2013; Naftzinger, 2020). By relying on a New literacy Studies perspective (Barton & Hamilton, 2012; Barton 2007; Gee, 2000; Papen, 2005) this study seeks to understand how students’ writing practices change and evolve during the transition from school to university and across different settings in everyday life. Such an understanding could help to promote well-informed policies to support students’ writing development across educational stages, specifically for groups traditionally excluded from higher education (Lillis, 2001). Based on a longitudinal design, this study follows a group of students from low-income backgrounds in Chile from their last year of school to their first year at university. During this transitional period, students will be asked to: 1) participate in “talking around text” interviews (Baker, 2018; Ivanic, 1998; Lillis, 2001), 2) submit a sample of writing pieces, and 3) complete a writing log. All these data will be analysed by using both a scheme code (Gaisler & Swarts, 2019) according to research questions and a constant comparison method to obtained emergent categories (Charmaz, 2013). In this presentation, initial results of this study will be introduced. With these findings, I hope to contribute to a better understanding of how students from less privileged backgrounds face a diverse range of writing practices as well as identify which meanings they attribute to them in the context of their daily lives and life projects.

Further Guidance

For further guidance on writing abstracts, Shungo Suzuki from LAEL at Lancaster University has kindly shared his experiences and advice here:

Shungo Suzuki

Publication Guidelines

Speakers will also be invited to submit their papers for publication in Papers from the Lancaster Linguistics and English Language Postgraduate Conference. This is a peer-reviewed, open-access online publication featuring full papers from the annual Lancaster Linguistics and English Language Postgraduate Conference. For previous years’ publications please visit the Papers from LAEL PG.

HL2C Seminar: Montserrat Comesaña (Minho), The representational nature of grammatical gender: The relevance of language transparency

We are pleased to announce the next HL2C seminar, taking place on Thursday 24th February from 3pm-4pm GMT (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London).


Montserrat Comesaña (Minho)


The representational nature of grammatical gender: The relevance of language transparency

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.


The study of the representation and processing of grammatical gender during noun lexical access in language production has reached controversial results across languages. For Germanic and Slavic languages, a context of agreement has been widely found to be necessary for the emergence of gender competitive effects (e.g., slower responses when two nouns of different gender compete for selection than when these nouns are of same gender –gender congruency effect). For Romance languages, the results are instead puzzling, since some studies find that this context of agreement is necessary, but others do not. Thus, available evidence seems to support the idea that gender nodes would behave differently across language families. The picture is even more clouded with bilingual populations. Late bilinguals who carried out naming and translation tasks showed a gender congruency effect (i.e., faster responses for gender-congruent translation pairs) independently from the language family and the presence of an agreement context. The reason behind the effects obtained with late bilinguals of Germanic languages producing bare nouns (BNs) remains unknown. Here, we will present a series of experiments which are aimed at testing the tenets of a recent hypothesis developed in our lab: the Gender Acquisition and Processing (GAP) hypothesis. This hypothesis explains data discrepancies across studies with native speakers of different languages as a result of differences in the basal activation level of gender nodes due to the disparity in the degree of phonological gender transparency of each language. Also, it explain the findings with late bilinguals as a result of the way second languages (L2s) are learned and used.

PhD Defense: Mara Moita, NOVA University of Lisbon

On Thursday 20th January 2022, Mara Moita, researcher at NOVA CLUNL’s LiFE group , defended her PhD thesis in Linguistics  at NOVA University of Lisbon.


The Acquisition of Syntactic Dependencies with Movement in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implant: A movement deficit?

The PhD exams took place at 2:30pm in Auditorium 223 in Almada Negreiros College, on the Campolide Campus at NOVA University of Lisbon.

Original source


PFMO project supports the second edition of the training program for Timorese judges in Portugal


On 31st January  2022, the Camões Institute, IP, welcomed six Timorese judges who started a training programme in Portugal. This programme will run for a period of six months and includes a theory component to be taught by the Centre for Judicial Studies in Lisbon, and an internship period in Portuguese courts.

This is the second edition of the programme, and the first in the post-pandemic period, which will not only involve specialising in technical legal matters, but also developing and strengthening techniques for the application and use of legal terminology in Portuguese. This experience is also intended to build and strengthen the relationship, in the long term, between Portuguese and Timorese institutions, and between their professionals.

The training program is supported by the PFMO project – Reinforcement of Public Finance Management and Supervision in Timor-Leste, funded by the European Union and co-financed and managed by Camões, IP.

Translated from the original news item, published by Camões Institute.


HL2C/SLLAT Seminar: Xiaobin Chen (Tübingen): AISLA – An intelligent agent for second language English learning in real-life contexts

Another exciting HL2C seminar will take place on Wednesday 9th February from 12 noon to 1pm GMT (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London).


Xiaobin Chen (Tübingen)


Aisla—An intelligent agent for second language English learning in real-life contexts (Joint talk with Lancaster’s SLLAT Group.)

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.


Aisla, a project funded by the German Ministry of Education, aims at developing an Intelligent Computer Assisted Language Learning (ICALL) system for training spoken English within real-life contexts. The system features design principles of Task-based Language Teaching (TBLT), naturalistic speech interaction with AI-powered conversation agents, and live adaptive feedback with Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies. In this talk, the Aisla team will present the design principles of ICALL language learning tasks, describe the Aisla system architecture, and demonstrate the current state of a mobile app implementing the above-mentioned features. We will also talk about the outlook of the project and the unique opportunities the Aisla system may offer to second language acquisition research.