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Professor Danijela Trenkic



University of Belgrade

            BA (Hons) in English Language, Linguistics and Literature

University of Cambridge

            MPhil (taught) in English and Applied Linguistics

            PhD in English and Applied Linguistics


I read English language and literature at the University of Belgrade and then studied English and applied linguistics for an MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge. I continued postdoctoral research on second language learning and instruction at Heriot-Watt university in Edinburgh, before taking up a lectureship in English and applied linguistics at the University of Portsmouth. I joined the Department of Education in York as lecturer in second language education in 2004.

My work centres on understanding how people comprehend, speak and learn new languages. I conduct experimental and correlational research, combining motivations and methods from the fields of linguistics, psychology and education. Ultimately, I’m interested in how we can promote language learning through school and beyond. I am a former president of the European Second Language Association.

Departmental roles

MA Programme leader and admissions tutor

MA Applied Linguistics for English Language Teaching;

MA Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching


Language and Psychology (Stage 3, undergraduate)

Psychology of Language and Language Learning (MA)

Planning and Communicating Research (MA)

I also supervise undergraduate and masters students’ dissertation work

University roles

Academic Promotions Panel, Faculty of Social Sciences



My research straddles two areas of psycholinguistics:

  • Language, memory and cognition, with particular reference to mechanisms that underpin second language learning and use
  • Language, literacy and academic attainment, with particular reference to international students in higher education

I am happy to talk to anyone about the topics covered on this page. And I am always interested to recruit well qualified PhD students to these areas.

Language, memory and cognition

I study the cognitive mechanisms by which second languages are produced in speech and writing or understood in listening and reading. In particular, I am interested in how languages differ (cross-linguistic differences), and how one’s lifelong experience of speaking a language with particular grammatical, lexical or phonological properties influence the processing and learning of another language with different properties (cross-linguistic influences, L1 transfer, structural competition between L1 and L2). I also study how the linguistic properties of the languages we speak influence our perception and thinking (linguistic relativity, bilingual cognition).

I also have a research interest in listening comprehension, primarily in relation to the development of second language segmentation abilities (ie being able to say where one word ends and the next begins in continuous speech). I study the role of simultaneous presentation of text and sound in the target language, as in teletext subtitles, for the development of this ability.

Language, literacy and academic attainment

I study how the language and literacy skills of university students affect their learning and academic outcomes. My research in this area focuses on international students who speak the language of instruction as a foreign language. Questions of interest include: How much do English language and literacy skills differ at university between international students who speak English as a foreign language, home students who speak English as their first language, and home students with a diagnosis of dyslexia? Do initial differences persist or disappear over the course of their studies? To what extent are these differences influenced by the international students’ first language? To what extent are these differences influenced by the number of fellow speakers of the same language with whom international students study? How critical are language and literacy skills on arrival for academic success? Are language entry requirements appropriately set?

Keywords: psycholinguistics; bilingualism; second language development and use; literacy; international students; higher education

Research group(s)


Gerry Altmann, Psychology, University of Connecticut

Gavin Austin, University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Selma Babayigit, UWE Bristol

Alan Baddeley, Psychology, University of York

Benedetta Bassetti, University of Birmingham

Ruolin Hu, UCL Institute of Education

Talia Isaacs, UCL Institute of Education

Sven Mattys, Psychology, University of York

Jelena Mirkovic, Psychology, University of York & York St John University

Nattama Pongpairoj, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Meesha Warmington, University of Sheffield

Available PhD research projects

View all of our current available PhD research projects.


Current research students:      

Justyna Mackiewicz

Xiaqian Shi

Former research students:       

Nattama Pongpairoj, PhD 2009, ‘Variability in second language article production: A comparison of L1 Thai and L1 French learners of L2 English’

Thomas Scott, MA by research 2009, ‘The effect of word connotations in assignments on the markers’ mood and grading’

Hsing-Ying Chen, PhD 2010 (supervised 2006-7), ‘A classroom quasi-experimental study to explore processing instruction’

Liviana Ferrari, PhD 2013, ‘Language learning motivation in L1-English adults during an Italian beginners' course’

Tendai Charles, PhD 2017, ‘The role of captioned video in developing speech segmentation for learners of English as a second language’

Ruolin, Hu, PhD 2018, 'The effect of IELTS test preparation and repeated test taking on Chinese candidates' IELTS results, general proficiency and their subsequent academic attainment'

Jelena O'Reilly, PhdD, 2018, 'Processing and production of unique and non-unique-to-L2 syntactic structures: The case of English articles and tense-aspect'

Haoruo Zhang, PhD 2019, 'From No, she does to Yes, she does: On the conceptual changes in the processing of negative yes-no questions by Chinese-English bilinguals'

External activities


European Second Language Association (EUROSLA)

            President, 2015 - 2019

            Secretary, 2011 - 2015

            Co-opted member of the Executive Committee 2019-2021

Philological Society (elected member)

Higher Education Academy (fellow)




The Kenneth E. Naylor Prize for the Best Young Scholar in South Slavic and Balkan Linguistics. The prize was awarded for the paper ‘Definiteness as a grammatical category and as a category of meaning in Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian’. The international competition was administered by Ohio State University (2002)

Vice Chancellor’s Anniversary Lectureship, University of York (2005)

The National Research Council of Thailand – honour for supervising an award-winning thesis by Doctor Nattama Pongpairoj (2013)

Visiting posts

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen. Visiting researcher, September 2006 and October 2008.

Chuo University, Tokyo. Visiting professor, October to November 2015.

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Visiting professor, December 2017.

Editorial duties

Journal of the European Second Language Association (JESLA), Fouding Editor-in-Chief 2016-2020

EUROSLA Studies Series, Editorial Board 2016-2020

IRAL (International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching), Editorial Board.

EUROSLA Monographs, Editorial Board (2009 to 2016)

EUROSLA Yearbook, Editorial Board (2010 to 2016)

Peer review

  • Funding bodies: ESRC, British Academy, Polish National Science Centre
  • Publishers (book proposals): Wiley-Blackwell, Routledge
  • JournalsApplied Psycholinguistics; Bilingualism: Language and Cognition; English Profile Journal; EUROSLA Yearbook; Folia Linguistica; Glossa; International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism; International Journal of Bilingualism; Journal of Educational Psychology; International Review of Applied Linguistics (IRAL); Journal of the European Second Language Association (JESLA); Journal of Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Language and Cognition; Language Awareness; Language Learning; Language Testing; Lingua; Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism; Modern Language Journal; Second Language Research; Studies in Second Language Acquisition; System; SLRF (Second Language Research Forum) Proceedings; TESL Canada Journal; Views and Voices
  • Conferences:
    • Architecture and Mechanisms for Language Processing Conference, AMLaP 2010 (University of York), 2011 (Paris)
    • CUNY Human Sentence Processing Conference 2011 (Stanford University), 2014 (Ohio State University), 2015 (University of Southern California)
    • European Second Language Association, EUROSLA 2005 (University of Zagreb), 2010 (University of Modena), 2012 (University Adam Mickiewicz, Poznan), 2013 (University of Amsterdam), 2014 (University of York), 2015 (Aix-en-Provence), 2016 (University of Jyväskylä), 2017 (University of Reading), 2018 (University of Münster), 2019 (Lund University), 2020/21 (University of Barcelona)

Conference organisation

EUROSLA 13. The thirteenth annual conference of the European Second Language Association, University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, 19-21 September 2003.

Eliciting data in second language research: Challenges and innovations. A two-day conference, hosted by the IRIS project. University of York, 2-3 September 2013.

EUROSLA 24. The twenty-fourth annual conference of the European Second Language Association, University of York, 4-6 September 2014. Chair.

External examining

MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL, University of Portsmouth (2012/13 – 2014/15)

MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL, University of Lancaster (2015/16 – 2018/19)

BA Modern Languages, BA Russian with Serbian/Croatian, University of Nottingham (2016/17 – 2018/19)

PhD dissertations, Barcelona (2021); Bergen (2017); Essex (2006, 2013); Newcastle, Australia (2010); UCL (2017)


Centre for Life, Newcastle. Scientific advisor on a language evolution exhibit (2006/7)

University of Hertfordshire. MA TESOL programme review (2014)

Government of Nunavut. Academic advice on financial incentives for learning heritage languages (2016)

Media coverage

The Times Higher Education: Language requirements for international students are too low (off-line version (PDF , 334kb))

The Times: Are you too old to learn a new language?

BBC: Critical window for learning a language

BBC Future: What is the best age to learn a langauge?

The Guardian: Language learning: What motivates us?

Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323461