Setting up a volunteer for an Eye Tracking Laboratory experiment (See my CV)



Who am I?

I am a Professor of Spanish, Linguistics, and Psychology in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese with an affiliate appointment in the Department of Psychology. I completed my doctoral studies in the interdisciplinary program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching at the University of Arizona, with a specialization in linguistic analysis and a minor concentration in second language processing. I then held a faculty position at the University of Illinois for four years (1996-2000), where I was a primary collaborator in pioneering a computer-enhanced Spanish language instruction curriculum consisting of mixed classroom and computer-assisted instruction. Prior to assuming my current position at Penn State, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi (2000-2001), where I was hired to implement the model for the Spanish language curriculum developed at Illinois.

My research program takes a cross-disciplinary approach to bilingual language processing using converging methodological tools from linguistics, experimental psycholinguistics, and second language acquisition. I conduct experiments, using a range of behavioral and electrophysiological (ERPs) methods, to examine the way in which bilingual readers and speakers negotiate the presence of two languages in a single mind. Because bilinguals who are relatively proficient potentially have access to the grammar and lexicon of each language when they comprehend written sentences or plan spoken utterances and because the recent research suggests that these systems are not independent, there is a critical question about how bilingualism affects basic aspects of language processing. The answer to this question has important implications not only for characterizing bilingualism, but more broadly for revealing the degree to which linguistic constraints influence cognitive processes. Recognizing that bilingualism is the rule rather than the exception globally, research from this perspective is now understood as providing evidence that complements monolingual and cross-linguistic research.

My Laboratory

In my research program, I have employed behavioral methods (reaction time and eye tracking methodology) and ERPS to examine reading and spoken-language processing while bilinguals read sentences or hear utterances in one of their two languages.. My students and I investigate whether language-specific information is largely kept independent when bilinguals compute initial syntactic structure for the sentences they read and hear, or whether information from one language influences decisions in the other language. Recent attention to the cognitive aspects bilingualism has enhanced our understanding of the processes involved in processing a second language and of the consequences of knowing a second language for the putatively stable first language system. The knowledge to be gained from our research will contribute a more nuanced characterization of what it means to be a bilingual.

Sample Syllabi

Graduate Courses

Undergraduate Courses

Proseminar in the Language Science of Bilingualism LING 521

    Syllabus LING 521

Proseminar in Professional Issues in Language Science LING 522

   Syllabus LING 522

Psycholinguistics PSY 520

    Syllabus PSY 520

Code Switching SPAN 597

    Syllabus SPAN 597B

Life with Two Languages SPAN 083

   Syllabus SPAN 083

Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics SPAN 215

   Syllabus SPAN 215

Spanish Morohology and Syntax SPAN 415

   Syllabus SPAN 415