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Werkgroep Over Taal (WOT)

What is WOT?

Being part of CLIN, WOT is a multilingual discussion and study platform for all linguists at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and beyond. The goal is to bring together young (at heart) linguistic researchers who want to share their research in exchange for tips and tricks from their peers. The fields discussed range from sociolinguistics to second language acquisition to neurolinguistics (and much more). Besides presentations, we also offer workshops and plan on organizing more informal get-togethers as well. 

On this page, you can find our previous speakers and topics, as well as the upcoming presentations and workshops.

If you wish to join one of our upcoming lectures or workshops, or you are interested in giving a talk on your topic, you are requested to contact the supervisors: and 

Upcoming discussions

20 May 2022: Presentation by Georgia Knell (VUB) 

15 June 2022: Presentation by Lisa Hilte (UA)


  • All WOT-seminars take place in the professorenzaal 5.C.402., unless announced otherwise. 
  • Note: during midday sessions, a small lunch is provided, if the session is in the afternoon we offer coffee and cake. 
flyer wot



Abstract of Georgia Knell - presentation on May 20th 2022 

What the eyes don't see, the mind won't learn: Investigating the role of salience in the initial processing of morphology in SLA

The cognitive mechanisms of attention and awareness are believed to play a crucial role in second language acquisition (SLA; cf. Schmidt 1990), but still little is known about their exact role therewithin. Many factors have been proposed to influence a learner’s attention to and awareness of new linguistic forms in a second language (L2), some of which are endogenous, i.e., consciously applied by the learner, and some of which are exogenous, i.e., resulting from factors outside the learner’s control. The latter determine the form’s salience. While some researchers have theorized about the impact of salience on attention, awareness and acquisition in SLA (e.g., Goldschneider & DeKeyser 2001), there are still few empirical studies that directly investigate the influence of salience on L2 processes. From the literature, we have selected particular operationalizations of salience that my impact attention to a particular grammatical form (Ellis, 2016; Simoens et al, 2018) and hypothesize that forms with greater degrees of salience lead to greater attention, awareness, and consequently, acquisition of the form.


The present research aims to initiate a systematic empirical investigation of the effect of various factors of salience on SLA. To this end, we will conduct three experiments that consider a selection of factors hypothesized to determine the salience of L2 features. In each experiment, we analyze participants’ eye movements as they read short texts in a semiartificial language called Englishti, which incorporates into the grammar of English two artificial morphemes, o and olp, which are manipulated in specific ways in each experiment to reflect the salience factor(s) in question for that experiment. Eye movements reveal how the degree of salience of the form interacts with the attention learners allocate to it. A retrospective interview measures the level of awareness learners have of the new form and its meaning. Within each experiment, we also consider how the influence of salience is mediated by individual learner variables, using a series of pretests measuring working memory and language aptitude, as well as implicit vs. explicit learning contexts, using questions after each sentence pertaining either to its comprehension (implicit) or its grammaticality (explicit).


Through this series of experiments that together consider the isolated and interactional effects of various types of salience in combination with learner- and context-specific variables, we expect to develop a more robust understanding of the nature and role of salience in SLA and how this can be applied to improve real-world language learning.



Ellis, N. (2016). Salience, cognition, language complexity, and complex adaptive systems. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 38(2), 341–351.

Goldschneider, J., & DeKeyser, R. (2001). Explaining the “natural order of L2 morpheme acquisition” in English: A meta-analysis of multiple determinants. Language Learning, 51(1), 1–50.

Schmidt, R. (1990). The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 11(2), 129–158.

Simoens, H., et al. (2018). The effect of perceptual salience on processing L2 inflectional morphology. In S. M. Gass, P. Spinner, & J. Behney (Eds.), Salience in Second Language Acquisition (pp. 107–130). New York: Routledge.

Previous WOT discussions

11/03/2022 Drs. Fien De Malsche Universiteit Antwerpen The importance of small talk in corporate communicative contexts
17/12/2021 Drs. Julie Van Ongeval Vrije Universiteit Brussel A diachronic study of Dutch verbal cluster order variation.


Drs. Magda Serwadczak Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Universiteit Antwerpen  Reconstructing oral discourse in writing: an analysis of orality markers and entextualization strategies in historical witness depositions
21/02/2020 Drs. Eva Koch Vrije Universiteit Brussel Workshop on eye-tracking as a method in linguistic research
16/12/2019 Drs. Yasmin Crombez Vrije Universiteit Brussel What to Choose? Lexical Preference as a Road into Respondents’ Attitudes towards English Loanwords
16/12/2019 Miss Paola Mureddu Vrije Universiteit Brussel The influence of L2 on L1: a study of homographs and cognates in English and Italian


Drs. Carolin Schneider University of Duisburg-Essen ’Bueno, uhm’ – Interjections as a Code-switching Practice among People living with Alzheimer’s Dementia
04/06/2019 Miss Graziela Dekeyser  KU Leuven

Lost in Translation? Emotional Confusion among Ethnolinguistic Minority Children: A Family Approach


Drs. Ily Hollebeke & Drs. Rachida Aghallaj


KU Leuven

Promoting early multilingualism in childhood and childcare: Family language policy and parents’ perspectives on communication with professionals


Mr. Francisco Miguel Valada

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The effects of instruction on the acquisition of phonological distinctions in a second language: the case of Portuguese


Drs. Nathan Vandeweerd

Drs. Rachel Rubin 

VUB/ UCLouvain Lexicogrammatical complexity in Learner Language
30/11/2018 Mr. Víctor Pérez Béjar  Universidad de Sevilla Suspended clauses in Spanish
30/11/2018 Mr. Serge Bibauw  KU Leuven Dialogue-based CALL: a multilevel meta-analysis
16/11/2018 Mr. Peng Bi   Syntactic Complexity Development for Chinese EFL Learners: Insights from an Annotated Learner Corpus
04/09/2018 Miss Jinling Li  University of Tilburg

Chineseness as a Moving Target: Changing infrastructures of the Chinese Diaspora in the Netherlands




Miss Kathy MinHye Kim Michigan State University

Sleep-dependent consolidation of second language grammar knowledge: The pre-sleep awareness status matters

22/06/2018 Miss Clara Ureña Tormo Universidad de Alcalá Teaching Spanish idioms from a Cognitive Linguistics perspective


Dr. Nanna Hilton

University of Groningen (The Netherlands)

Stimmen: A Citizen Science Approach to LVC


Miss Isa Hendrikx

Université Catholique de Louvain

Intensifying constructions in French-speaking L2 learners of Dutch or English: Longitudinal results


Miss Vanessa De Wilde 

Universiteit Gent

Uncovering covert knowledge of English in children


Dr. Iris Van de Voorde

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Introduction to PhD project “Pluricentricity in language history. Building blocks for an integrated history of Dutch (1550-1850)”


Miss Geòrgia Pujadas Jorba

University of Barcelona

Focus and non-focus L2 learning through subtitles and captions


Mr. Toivo Glatz

University of Groningen (The Netherlands)

Game-based literacy training in Dutch


Dr. Memet Aktürk-Drake

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

When divergent state ideologies converge on mother-tongue instruction in immigrant languages: The case of Turkish in Western Europe


Dr. Hanneke Loerts

University of Groningen (The Netherlands)

The awful Dutch gender system: ERPs reveal difficulties in gender processing in native and bilingual Dutch speakers


Prof. Dr. Niels Schiller 

Leiden University (The Netherlands)

Morphological Processing in Language Production


Joint lecture: Miss Carmen Pascual & Miss Marina González Sanz 

Universitat de València (CP) & Universidad de Sevilla (MGS)

The Impact of CLIL in a Multilingual Context: the Valencian Region (CP) & Influence of gender and role on interruptions in the Political Talk Show (MGS)


Drs. Eva Koch

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Incidental second language morphosyntactic learning in conversation: The acquisition of stem allomorphy in German strong verbs by adult native speakers of Dutch


Prof. Bertha Gregoria Salvador Jiménez

Universidad Central "Marta Abreu" de Las Villas, Cuba

Presentation on the phonological system of Spanish and some procedures for its acquisition