Linguistics at Newcastle

Language Acquisition & Bilingualism

Language Acquisition and Bilingualism


This theme looks at the theoretical and methodological approaches to first and second language acquisition and bilingualism.

Our current research focuses on the following themes:

First language acquisition and development

This includes theoretical linguistic, psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic accounts of normal and impaired child language development and language processing.

Our child language research group meets regularly to discuss our research, strategy, and issues in child language. The group particularly focuses on disordered language development.

Second Language Acquisition (SLA) 

This theme covers a wide range of theoretical and practical aspects of SLA, including:

  • L2 morphosyntactic development in and out of the classroom
  • impact of literacy
  • speech production
  • interfaces with cognitive and processing constraints
  • the effects of L2 acquisition of specific grammatical categories on thinking


This theme looks at all aspects of bilingual development and language processing in children and adults. Our aim is to better understand the relationship between L1 and L2 as linguistic systems and the effects of bilingualism on higher level cognitive processes and abilities.

This work is informed by empirical work on many aspects of language acquisition, in a wide range of languages, and using leading-edge methodologies. For example:

  • longitudinal studies
  • computerised tagged oral corpora
  • mouse-tracking
  • priming
  • non-verbal categorisation
  • event-related potentials (ERPs)
  • eye-tracking

Researchers in bilingualism have strong links with the developmental linguists in the Clinical Linguistics research theme. They address similar underlying research questions about the relationship between language and cognition and its implications for language acquisition/disorders and a theory of the mind.

Second language acquisition and bilingualism also overlaps with research under the Applied Linguistics theme.



Staff in the Language Acquisition and Bilingualism research theme are currently involved in the following projects.


The following members of staff work within the Language Acquisition and Bilingualism research theme.

Dr Jalal-eddin Al-Tamimi
Senior Lecturer in Phonetics

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5208

Dr Cristina Dye
Senior Lecturer in Language Development & Psycholinguistics


Dr Alan Firth
Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5273

Dr Michael Jin
Lecturer in Translation & Interpreting

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8733

Professor Ghada Khattab
Professor of Phonetics and Phonology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6583

Professor James Law
Professor of Speech & Language Sciences

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5250

Dr Carolyn Letts
Senior Lecturer

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7390

Dr Mei Lin
Senior Lecturer

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5070

Dr Elaine Lopez
Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and TESOL

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6564

Professor Cristina McKean
Professor of Child Language Development and Disorders

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6528

Dr Nick Riches
Snr Lect in Speech & Language Pathology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8720

Dr Peter Sercombe
Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5657

Dr Faye Smith
Lecturer in Speech and Language Sciences

Telephone: 01912088625

Dr Helen Stringer
Head of Speech & Language Sciences; Senior Lecturer/Speech and Language Therapist

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5196

Professor Tony Young
Professor of Applied Linguistics and Communication

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7515

Professor Martha Young-Scholten
Professor of Second Language Acquisition

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7751