OZR back-ip mandate: What the eyes don’t see, the mind won’t learn: Investigating the role of salience in the initial processing of morphology in SLA.

Project Details


The cognitive mechanisms of attention and awareness are believed to play a crucial role in the process of second language acquisition (SLA) but little is known about their exact nature and role. Many factors have been proposed to influence a learner’s attention to and awareness of new linguistic forms in a second language (L2), some of which are learner- or context-based and some of which are inherent to the form itself. The latter determine the form’s salience.
Many researchers believe the salience of a linguistic form in an L2 critically determines its learning difficulty but little research has investigated this directly and systematically. The present research aims to do just that, by analyzing the eye movements of L2 learners when they encounter new grammatical forms (articles, suffixes) of different types and degrees of saliency while reading texts in a semiartificial language called Englishti. These eye movement reveal how
the salience of the form interacts with the attention that learners
allocate to it. A questionnaire probes into the level of awareness that
learners have of the new form and its meaning while reading. Through a series of experiments that together consider the isolated and interactional effects of various types of salience in combination with learner- and context-specific variables, we expect to develop a more robust understanding of the nature and role of salience in SL and how this can be applied to improve real-world language learning.
Effective start/end date1/11/2031/10/21


  • SLA
  • Salience
  • attention and awareness

Flemish discipline codes

  • Cognitive processes
  • Learning and behaviour
  • Grammar
  • Language acquisition
  • Psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics