Leah Roberts
Leader, Centre for Research in Language Learning and Use

Profile

Biography

Before joining the Department of Education in September 2011, I spent eight years as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in the Language Acquisition Group, firstly on a project funded by the Dutch Science Foundation on acquisition and processing in bilingual and multilingual speakers, then later in project on acquisition and information structure. Prior to that, I worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Essex in the Department of Languages and Linguistics on a Leverhulme-funded project comparing real-time language processing of child and adult learners.

I obtained my first degree from the University of East London in 1997 in Linguistics with Education Studies, and did my post-graduate studies at the University of Essex, obtaining an MA in Language Acquisition in 1999 and a PhD on syntactic processing in second language learners in in 2003.

The focus of my research is in second language learning and processing at the word-, sentence- and discourse-levels. Recent research topics include what adult and child learners can acquire (in and out of the classroom environment) after only a small amount of exposure to a brand new language, and at the other end of the proficiency-continuum, how two languages interact in the mind of functionally bilingual speakers during real-time language comprehension.

*** I am interested in supervising research students in any of the following areas: second language/bilingual grammatical/discourse processing and acquisition, cross-linguistic influences in SLA, classroom intervention studies on language learning of grammar/discourse, naturalistic and/or classroom-based first exposure to a new language ***

I teach on the following MA modules in the department:

  • Cross-linguistic Influences in Second Language Acquisition
  • Developmental Psycholinguistics
  • Research Methods for Applied Linguistics
  • Planning and Communicating Research

Research

Overview

  • Real-time processing and links to acquisition at the sentence- and discourse-levels
  • First stages of language learning (naturalistic and classroom)
  • Cross-linguistic influences in second language learning, specifically on the processing and acquisition of referential expressions (e.g. pronouns) in discourse and temporal anaphora (tense/aspect markers)

Research group(s)

  • Centre for Language Learning Research

Collaborators

As well as collaborating with many colleagues within the Department of Education and other departments at the University of York, my collaborators include:

  • Christine Dimroth, University of Osnabruck
  • Marianne Gullberg, Lund University
  • Sarah Liszka, University of Greenwich
  • Josje Verhagen, Utrecht University
  • Marcel Bastiaanssen, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
  • Carrie Jackson, Penn State University
  • Janet van Hell, Penn State University
  • Roger van Gompel, Dundee University
  • Petra Schumacher, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
  • Juhani Jarvikivi, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Miriam Ellert, Univeristy of Göttingen
  • Nigel Duffield, University of Sheffield
  • Ayumi Matsuo, University of Sheffield

External activities

Memberships

  • Steering committee member: Varieties in iInitial Learners in Language Acquisition (VILLA); European Second Language Association (EUROSLA)

Editorial duties

I am Managing Editor of the EUROSLA Yearbook and Co-Editor of the journal International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching (IRAL). I am on the editorial boards of Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, the EUROSLA Monograph Series, and Theory and Practice in Language Studies (TPLS).

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Contact details

D/M/112
Department of Education
University of York
York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323450