Using and Acquiring Multiple Languages
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleSOW-DGCN19
Credits (ECTS)6
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Social Sciences; Cognitive Neuroscience;
PreviousNext 2
prof. dr. A.F.J. Dijkstra
Other course modules lecturer
dr. G.J. Kootstra
Other course modules lecturer
dr. K.M. Lemhöfer
Other course modules lecturer
dr. K.M. Lemhöfer
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. K.M. Lemhöfer
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
SEM1  (01/09/2020 to 24/01/2021)
Starting block
Course mode
Please note: if you do not yet have a master's registration, you are not yet registered for the tests for this course.
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
After completion of the course, students should be able to discuss recent psychological, neuroscientific, and linguistic developments in the domain of multilingualism. They should also understand the rationale underlying recent studies in terms of their methodological, theoretical, and modelling aspects. Finally, the course will train skills of critical reflection on the literature by requiring essay questions and an in-depth oral presentation with respect to one specific research theme.
Neuroscientific and (psycho)linguistic approaches to multilingualism are considered to characterize how multilinguals read, listen, speak, and learn foreign languages. Processes and representations are described at sublexical (phonemic and syllabic), lexical, syntactic, semantic, and dialogue levels. The focus of the course lies on a still-unresolved but central question: Since languages sometimes help each other and sometimes fight each other during processing, what determines the balancing act between the various languages in the multilingual mind? An in-depth understanding of this issue requires a consideration of the types of stimulus materials and research techniques in use, the effects of age of acquisition, and the available bilingual models of language (non)selective access and executive control. Complex issues like word translation and foreign-accented speech are informative here as well.

In alternation with the teachers’ lectures, students will contribute to the specific “topic of the week” (introduced by the lecturer in the first meeting of a week) by designing a student-led activity during the second meeting in a week. This can be a ‘traditional’, in-depth presentation of individual studies / articles, but can also be a mini-experiment, a data set analysis, a demonstration or similar. Students will form pairs to design and lead such an activity, in consultation with the respective teacher. The grade for this activity will be mostly reliant on creativity and quality of preparation than on perfect execution.

Course literature will be announced on Brightspace in due course (the sources named above are examples).

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information


Assumed previous knowledge
This course is for CNS students only. Non-CNS students can contact Ellen Janssen ( or Arno Koning (

Required materials
Course material
Lecture notes and relevant chapters from books on bilingualism and recent research articles on (neuro)cognitive aspects of bilingualism.

Recommended materials
Kroll, J.F., & De Groot, A.M.B. (2004). Handbook of Bilingualism: Psycholinguistic Approaches Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dijkstra, A. & Van Heuven, W.J.B. (2002). The architecture of the bilingual word recognition system: From identification to decision. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 5, 175-197.
Birdsong, D. (2006). Age and second language acquisition and processing: A selective overview.Language Learning, 56 (s1), 9-49.

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Lectures by teachers

Attendance MandatoryYes

15-minute oral presentations by students on selected topics in bilingualism

take home exam
Test weight80
Test typeExam
OpportunitiesBlock SEM2, Block SEM2

NOTE: enrollment for a course automatically registers you for its exam. For participating in the retake, register again.

Test weight20
Test typePresentation
OpportunitiesBlock SEM1, Block SEM2