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Second Language Acquisition Lab

The Second Language Acquisition and Cognition (SLAC) Research Group is dedicated to the investigation of second language acquisition, bilingualism, and multilingualism with a focus on speakers' cognition. We are a team of researchers with different perspectives, theoretical approaches, and methodological techniques collaborating to gain a deeper understanding of learners' morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. We draw from broader fields, such as Cognitive Linguistics and Psycholinguistics to answer questions pertaining to learners' cognition.



Dr. Vera Lee-Schoenfeld

Dr. Vera Lee-SchoenfeldDirector

Vera Lee-Schoenfeld, PhD, is primarily a theoretical linguist with a research focus on German syntax. She also has an interest in language acquisition, holding degrees in TESOL and French Language Education. She is the co-author of Language Matters: A Guide to Everyday Questions about Language, Second edition (2010) with Donna Jo Napoli from Swarthmore College.

Jean Costa-Silva

Jean Costa-Silva, PhD Candidate, Coordinator

Jean's interests pertain to second language acquisition and syntax. His work focuses on Cognitive Linguistics and the acquisition of motion in English and Portuguese. He has a BA in English Linguistics and TESOL as well as teaching certificates from the University of Oregon and the University of Cambridge.


Amelia Abbott, PhD Student

Amelia's research focuses on M2L2 (second modality second language) acquisition, in which a language user acquires a new language in a different modality (spoken, signed, or haptic).

Seaira Lett

Seaira Lett, PhD Student

Seaira’s interests include language documentation and indigenous languages of Latin America. Her work focuses on the morphosyntax of Chuj, a Mayan language from Guatemala. Seaira previously served as a kindergarten teacher at a dual-language school in Kansas City, MO. 


Grant Shubin, Undergraduate Student




Former Members:

  • Caroline Schneider, MA
  • Shulin Zhang, PhD
  • Michael Wolfman, PhD
  • Cullen Giddens, Undergraduate
  • Sarah Kudyba, Undergraduate
  • Morgan Riley, Undergraduate

Current Research Projects:

  • The acquisition of motion encoding lexicalization patterns
  • The effects of instructor's proficiency on students’ pronunciation
  • The acquisition of L2/L3 syntax and inflectional morphology


  • Costa-Silva, J., Zhang, S., Lee-Schoenfeld, V. "A Matter of Space: The Acquisition of Motion Lexicalization Patterns by English-Portuguese Late Bilinguals". 100th Linguistics Society of America Annual Meeting, New York.
  • Costa-Silva, J., Giddens, C., Kudyba, S. "Should you Google it? Analyzing Internet Myths about Language Acquisition". GATESOL: Connect, University of Georgia. 
    Costa-Silva, J., Lee-Schoenfeld, V. "(Syntactically) Branching out Beyond the Traditional Classroom: A Report on the Discovery Method" (poster). 2023 Spring Teaching Symposium, University of Georgia.
  • Kudyba, S., Giddens, C., Costa-Silva, J., Lee-Schoenfeld, V. "The Acquisition of VAC Patterns by L2 English Learners from L1 Mandarin Chinese and L1 Japanese Backgrounds" (talk). 2023 CURO Symposium, University of Georgia.
  • Giddens, C., Kudyba, S., Costa-Silva, J., Lee-Schoenfeld, V. "Understanding the Acquisition of English VACs by Speakers of Two Typologically Similar L1s: Brazilian Portuguese and Italian" (poster). 2023 CURO Symposium, University of Georgia.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do you also focus on non-cognitive factors?

We only marginally address these topics whenever they emerge in relation to cognition. Therefore, if you are interested in socio-emotional, contextual factors or language education/instruction per se, we strongly encourage contacting our affiliated faculty in the Department of Language and Literacy Education and the Department of TESOL and World Languages.

When and where do we meet?

Fall 2024 schedule will be available soon.


Email our coordinator, Jean Costa-Silva, at

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Your donations to the Department of Linguistics will support research and travel opportunities for students and faculty and other initiatives to enhance students' education in linguistics. Please consider joining other friends and alumni who have shown their support by making a gift to our fund. We greatly appreciate your contributions to the success of our programs!