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SLAC Research Group

SLAC (Second Language Acquisition and Cognition) is an interdisciplinary research group 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, Psycholinguistics, Neurolinguistics, and Cognitive Science of Language, 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 encoding lexicalization patterns. He has a BA in English Linguistics and TESOL as well as teaching certificates from the University of Oregon and the University of Cambridge.

Shulin Zhang

Shulin Zhang, PhD Candidate

Shulin does research in Computational and Neurolinguistics. She explores the brain mechanism of zero pronouns and their discourse support resources. She has prior experience in Cognitive Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Electric Engineering. 


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). Amelia is a visiting student at the University of Michigan's Sign Language & Multimodal Communication Lab.

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. 

Michael Wolfman

Michael Wolfman, M.A. Student

Michael's research interests lie at the nexus of Syntax, Human Sentence Processing, and Computational Linguistics. He conducts research with faculty members from the University of Georgia and University of Alabama.

Caroline Schneider

Caroline Schneider, M.A. Student

Caroline's areas of interest are Hispanic Linguistics, Phonetics & Phonology, and Language Acquisition. Caroline previously worked as an administrative assistant at UNC Press. She continues her work in publishing as a graduate assistant at UGA Press.


Michael Gray, PhD Student




Cullen Giddens

Cullen Giddens, Undergraduate Student

Cullen is an Undergraduate student in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Georgia. He is currently majoring in Linguistics with a French minor. Special interests include syntax, second language acquisition, and bilingualism. 

Sarah Kudyba

Sarah Kudyba, Undergraduate Student

Sarah is an Undergraduate Student in the Department of Linguistics. She is pursuing a B.A. in Linguistics and German and is minoring in Chinese, Cognitive Science, and TESOL. Sarah's interests include Phonetics and Phonology, SLA, Psycholinguistics, German, and Chinese.


Morgan Riley, Undergraduate Student

Morgan is an Undergraduate student in the Department of Linguistics, School of Computing, and Institute for Artificial Intelligence at the University of Georgia. She is pursuing a B.A. in Linguistics and Cognitive Science and a B.S. in Computer Science, with an AoE in Artificial Intelligence. Morgan's research interests include computational linguistics, SLA, AI, and Evolutionary Computation.


Grace Ammons, Undergraduate Student





Grant Shubin, Undergraduate Student




Current Research Projects:

  • The acquisition of motion encoding lexicalization patterns by English and Portuguese late bilinguals
  • The effects of instructor's proficiency on students’ pronunciation (Spanish/Korean)
  • The acquisition of second person pronouns by L1 English speakers learning L2 French and L2 German
  • The acquisition of the pro-drop parameter by L1 English speakers learning L2 Chinese/L2 Japanese
  • The acquisition of L2/L3 syntax and inflectional morphology
  • The effects of L2 Latin instruction on L3 acquisition


  • 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.

How can I join?

We accept new members at the beginning of every academic year. We currently limit our group to about 15 members. However, we encourage interested students to reach out to our coordinator, Jean Costa-Silva, in any case.

When do we meet?

Fall 2023 Schedule:

  • September 1, 15, 29
  • October 13, 20
  • November 3, 10
  • December 1, 8

Where do we meet?

Email our coordinator, Jean Costa-Silva, for the exact location.


Email our coordinator, Jean Costa-Silva, at

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