About me

The short version …

How do bilingual children learn their two languages? Why are some children more successful than others? How do bilingual children’s two languages influence each other? These are just some of the questions I’m trying to answer with my research. I’m a linguist at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, passionate about figuring out which factors contribute to making bilingual language development a success and passing this knowledge on to parents, teachers and policy makers.

The long version …

I was born in Preston, Lancashire, UK in 1974. After completing A-levels in French, German and Music, I moved to the North East where I received a BA in French and German from Newcastle University in 1998 and a MA in Language Acquisition from Durham University in 2000. As part of my studies, I spent time teaching English in France (Lézignan-Corbières) and Germany (Mönchengladbach). I started my doctoral studies at Durham but after a short stay at Utrecht institute of Linguistics in 2001 as a junior Marie Curie fellow, I went on to complete my PhD, a comparative investigation of adult and child second language acquisition, in the Netherlands (Utrecht University, 2005), and marry a Dutch man (!). My PhD dissertation was shortlisted for the Linguistic Society of the Netherlands’ dissertation of the year in 2006, and in 2009 I was awarded the Keetje Hodshon prize by the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities for the best dissertation in linguistics in the preceding five years. From 2005 to 2008 I held teaching positions at Utrecht University and Leiden University, and in 2008 I received a VENI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for a project investigating the role of age and input in early child bilingualism; from 2008 to 2010, I combined this with a post-doc position at the Meertens Institute (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) in Amsterdam, working together with Aafke Hulk, Leonie Cornips, Ianthi Tsimpli, Antonella Sorace and Froso Argyri. From 2008 to 2013 I was Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Culture at Utrecht University. In 2014 I moved to Radboud University Nijmegen, where I am currently Associate Professor of Second Language Acquisition in the Department of English Language and Culture and the Department of Linguistics, and co-PI of the research group Cognitive and Developmental Aspects of Multilingualism, together with Ton Dijkstra and Rob Schoonen. In 2016, I was awarded a VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for a project investigating crosslinguistic influence in bilingual acquisition, and I also became a Research Fellow at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. I serve on the Editorial Board of the journal Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, where I was previously Associate (2011-2014) and Executive Editor (2015-2017). Other previous positions held: member of the Executive Committee of IASCL (International Association for the Study of Child Language; 2012-2017), member of the Editorial Board of Second Language Research (2012-2015). I am an associate member of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at the University of Reading and an international collaborator on the NSF PIRE2 project Translating cognitive and brain science in the laboratory and field to language learning environments at Penn State University and University of California Riverside. As a language scientist, I think it’s important not only to do solid research but also to pass on the insights gained from such research to others. As such, I regularly give talks and workshops about raising bilingual children, I initiated the Netherlands’ only child language festival, Kletskoppen kindertaalfestival, and I am currently working on a podcast all about bilingual children. When I’m not doing linguistics or busy with my family, I love to sew and to bake cakes.