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Current projects - a selection

CLS involves society in her research in various ways. Below you will find a selection of our projects with societal impact.

Public engagement - 2in1 project

Time frame of the project: December 2016 - November 2022
Researcher: Sharon Unsworth
Parties involved: Centre for Language Studies, Max Planck Institute, Donders Institute, Behavioural Science Institute, Bibliotheek De Mariënburg (Nijmegen)

How exactly are two languages ​​acquired and used in one child's mind? When a child grows up bilingual, they usually know very well with whom to speak which language and often it is not possible to hear that a child is bilingual. Yet there are striking differences between bilingual children and their monolingual peers. For example, "Sharon's cup" is a common expression in English. A Dutch-English bilingual child could say "the cup of Sharon" in English. That is not wrong, but an English speaker will hardly ever say it that way. It says "Sharon's cup". In this case, the structure from one language is copied into the other language.


The goal of the 2in1 project is to find out how and under what circumstances the languages ​​of bilingual children influence each other. Until now, this has mainly been studied in bilingual adults. The project investigates whether the influence between languages ​​is the same for all language combinations. And does that depend on which two languages ​​you are learning, which language is dominant in your environment, or how good you are at both languages?

During the project, children between the ages of 3 and 10 are examined who grow up in families where German, English, Greek or Turkish is spoken. The researchers are now also focusing on what happens after that age, specifically in (young) adults aged 15 to 40 who have grown up with Dutch and German or with Dutch and English.

Health Care Communication - ST. CART: language technology that helps children and elderly

Time frame of the project: 2021 - 2025
Researcher: Helmer Strik
Parties involved: Centre for Language and Speech Technology (CLST), Virtask, 8D Games

ST. Cart is a language technology project with two components: one that helps children with a language deficiency and another that helps identify cognitive decline in the elderly. The Centre for Language and Speech Technology (CLST) plays a big role in this project.

Digi Juf and Anne4Care

In the 1.7 million euro project, the CLST is developing high end speech technology in support of two innovative products: the Digi Juf (‘Digi Teacher’) created by 8D Games that allows children with a language deficiency to learn how to read in a fun way and Anne4Care, the virtual care-assistant for the elderly created by Virtask, that uses the new speech technology to diagnose cognitive decline, in order to alert caretakers to changing care needs in an early stage. The project combines innovative scientific research with sustainable solutions for current challenges in society in the field of education and health care.

Application development - SignON: automatic translation between spoken and sign languages

Time frame of the project: 2021 - 2024
ResearchersDr. Henk van de Heuvel, Dr. Louis ten Bosch
Parties involved:

  • Dublin City University (DCU) (coordinator), Ireland
  • Fincons Group (FINC), Switzerland
  • Instituut voor de Nederlandse Taal (INT), The Netherlands
  • University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Spain
  • The National Microelectronics Applications Centre Ltd (MAC), Ireland
  • Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), Spain
  • Technological University Dublin (TUDublin), Ireland
  • Trinity College Dublin (TDC), Ireland
  • VRT, Belgium
  • Ghent University (UGent), Belgium
  • Vlaams Gebarentaalcentrum (Flemish Sign Language Centre – VGTC), Belgium
  • University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland
  • Radboud University Nijmegen (RU), The Netherlands
  • Nederlandse TaalUnie (NTU), The Netherlands
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULeuven), Belgium
  • European Union of the Deaf (EUD), Belgium
  • Tilburg University (TiU) (scientific lead), The Netherlands

SignON's aim is to facilitate communication between hearing, deaf and hard of hearing people throughout Europe. The project is developing an app that can translate sign language into spoken (and written) language and vice versa. Sign language users follow conversations in the app through a lifelike avatar. For hearing people, sign language is translated into written or spoken language.

The SignON EU consortium consists of 17 European partners. For the time being, the project focuses on the Irish, British, Dutch, Flemish and Spanish sign languages and English, Irish, Dutch, and Spanish as spoken languages. Language and speech technologists from the Center for Language and Speech Technology (CLST) of Radboud University focus on the automatic speech recognition of these languages. In addition, for a number of languages they will pay extra attention to the automatic recognition of speakers with a cochlear implant, an electronic implant that enables the deaf and severely hearing impaired to hear sounds again.


Application development - Immer reading app

Time frame of the project: 2020 - ...
Researcher: Roel Willems
Parties involved: Centre for Language Studies, Donders Institute, Stichting Lezen, Immer

Can a phone app make people enjoy reading digital books more? This project shows that it is possible. For the Immer reading app reading behaviour is investigated, and especially the reading of long, narrative texts. That so-called literary reading or 'deep reading' still mainly happens on paper. Despite the wide range of e-books and e-readers, digital reading of books does not seem to appeal to a large audience. We still know surprisingly little about how literary reading works on smartphones. Digital reading has for too long been seen as "normal" reading, but from a screen. At the same time, fewer people seem to be reading in the Netherlands, and screens can no longer be ignored in society. Here is a great opportunity for reading promotion.

Immer is an early-stage startup working on the future of reading on screens. The company developed the Immer Leesapp, a free app that helps readers to read more, easier and better on a smartphone or tablet. It contains a position indicator, which indicates on the screen where readers are in the text and how much they still have to read. To make the text less overwhelming, the app offers small portions of text with varying lengths on the screen, so that the screen always looks slightly different (portioning).

Health Care - Gender and language use in GP-patient interactions

Time frame of the project: February 2018 - January 2022
Researcher: Ilona Plug
Parties involved: Centre for Language Studies, Radboudumc

Differences between women and men have been found in all stages of the medical trajectory, resulting in dissimilar healthcare opportunities and outcomes. The aim of this research project is to investigate the role of sex and gender in interactions between general practitioners and patients with common somatic symptoms, for instance by focusing on interruption patterns during consultations and gender stereotypes in the medical context.

This project is one of the four sub projects within a large multidisciplinary research project. The results of the project can ensure better care for complaints from women and men. The results are incorporated into guidelines and an online training for general practitioners. Advice on how to communicate with patients is being developed.