New Paper: Boosting Bilingual Metalinguistic Awareness Under Dual Language Activation: Some Implications for Bilingual Education

Our latest paper is now available online: Torregrossa, J., Eisenbeiß, S., & Bongartz, C. (2023). Boosting bilingual metalinguistic awareness under dual language activation: Some implications for bilingual education. Article accepted in Language Learning on 9 September 2022.

Accessible Summary:

Are children better at reflecting about language when they can use their home and their school language together?

What this research was about and why it is important

This study contributes to an ongoing debate: Do children’s abilities in the school language benefit from the use of the home language(s) in the classroom or should the home and school language(s) be kept separate to avoid confusion? The study focused on children’s metalinguistic abilities, that is, their ability to consciously reflect on language, as assessed in the school language. Greek–Italian bilingual children had to notice and explain grammatical errors in Italian sentences. Children performed better in the bilingual mode, that is, when they read the Italian sentences and their Greek counterparts, than in the monolingual mode, that is, when they rated only (pairs of) Italian sentences. This suggests that activation of their other language(s) in metalinguistic tasks does not confuse children but rather benefits them. It also supports bilingual approaches to teaching.

What the researchers did

  • 33 Greek–Italian bilingual children (8–11 years) were tested in a multilingual school in Greece. Italian was the main medium of instruction and a language subject. Greek was as an additional language (5 hrs/week).
  • 19 children acquired Italian and Greek from birth; six children first encountered Italian in kindergarten (age 3); 6 children learned it in elementary school (age 6). Parents answered questions about language exposure.
  • Children heard and rated grammatical and ungrammatical Italian sentences for acceptability using a child-friendly rating scale with five emoticon faces (from very happy to very sad). Children also explained what they thought was wrong with the sentences that they found unacceptable. All sentences had matching pictures.
  • The Italian sentences were presented in three conditions: (a) single sentences in Italian (either grammatical or ungrammatical), (b) pairs of ungrammatical Italian sentences and their grammatical Italian counterparts, and (c) grammatical (or ungrammatical) Italian sentences with a grammatical (or ungrammatical) Greek translation.
  • Children’s grammatical processing abilities were assessed in a sentence-repetition task where they comprehended, memorized, and produced sentences.

What the researchers found

  • Children were better at noticing and explaining grammatical errors in the bilingual mode, that is, when their other language was activated, than in the monolingual mode where only one language was used.
  • When they explained errors, children with lower processing abilities in Italian benefited more from the bilingual mode.

Things to consider

  • We need larger studies to determine potential effects of the length of children’s exposure to their language(s).
  • The positive effects of the bilingual mode are in line with studies that have demonstrated positive effects of bilingual pedagogies on children’s literacy skills.


Materials are publicly available via OSF ( and IRIS (,

How to cite this summary

Eisenbeiß, S., Torregrossa, J., & Bongartz, C. (2022). Are children better at reflecting about language when they can use their home and their school language together? OASIS Summary of Torregrossa et al. (2023) in Language Learning.
This summary has a CC BY-NC-SA license.


Presentation: Psycholinguistics in the Field: Research Methods for Cross-linguistic and Cross-cultural Research with Children

I recently gave a presentation for the Linguistics Cafe, organized by Muhammad Alzaidi, King Saud University: Psycholinguistics in the field: research methods for cross-linguistic and cross-cultural research with children. I discusssed how you can obtain comparable data from different languages and still manage to adapt your methods to the respective languages, cultures, and locations. I presented some of my own work and wok by Birgit Hellwig, Henrike Frye, Benu Pareek, Pori Saikia, Shorouq Al-Houti, Nouf Alharbi. The slides can be downloaded here:.

Using PowerPoint to Create Language Games for Data Collection

On my blog about language, play, and nature, you can find a post with YouTube video tutorials that show you how you can use PowerPoint to create different types of games that can be used for data collection in psycholinguistics. The text of the blog post is written in German, but the language of the videos is mostly English and the names of the games are mostly given in English (memory, quiz, picture reveal, escape room, etc.). Thus, the content of the blog post should be accessible for English speakers as well.

I hope that you will find this useful,

All the best and lots of great data!

Sonja Eisenbeiß (die Sprachspinatin)

Reading Lists and Lists of Websites for Language Acquisition Research on my New Blog about Language, Play and Nature — childdirectedspeech

Books about language acquisition research, research methods, and statistics In 2019, I started my new blog about language, play, and nature. On this blog, you can find articles about language development, play, and nature, but I also publish lists of useful websites, books and other publications. The articles are written in German, but most of […]

Reading Lists and Lists of Websites for Language Acquisition Research on my New Blog about Language, Play and Nature — childdirectedspeech

Quantitative Empirical Studies in Linguistics, Language Teaching, Statistics, R and SPSS – a Reading List #rstats

Claus Caspari and I have just started half-time advisory positions at the Mercator-Institute for Literacy and Language Education. Below you can find a list of core readings for linguists and language teaching researchers who engage in quantitative empirical studies and carry out statistical analyses in SPSS or R. The list contains publications in English and German.

Further readings can be found here:

Websites with information about tools, software, institutions, etc. can be found here:

Corpora, lexical databases, and other ressources can be found here:

All the best

Sonja Eisenbeiß und Claus Caspari, 2020-02-17


Einführungen in quantitative empirische Studien und Statistik /
Introductions to Empirical Research and Statistics

  • Albert, R., & Marx, N. (2016). Empirisches Arbeiten in Linguistik und Sprachlehrforschung: Anleitung zu quantitativen Studien von der Planungsphase bis zum Forschungsbericht. Tübingen: Narr Francke Attempto Verlag.
  • Eid, M., Gollwitzer, M., & Schmitt, M. (2017). Statistik und Forschungsmethoden. Weinheim: Beltz.
  • Podesva, R. J., & Sharma, D. (Eds.). (2014). Research methods in linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Roche, J. (2019). Propädeutikum wissenschaftliches Arbeiten: Schwerpunkt DaF/DaZ und Sprachlehr-/Spracherwerbsforschung. Narr Francke Attempto Verlag.


Generelle Einführungen in Statistik mit SPSS /
General Introductions to Statistics Using SPSS

  • Field, A. (2017). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics. London: Sage.


Generelle Einführungen in Statistik mit R /
General Introductions to Statistics Using R

  • Field, A., Miles, J., Field, Z. (2012): Discovering statistics using R. London: Sage.
  • Luhmann, M. (2010). R für Einsteiger. Weinheim: Beltz.


Linguistisch orientierte Einführungen in Statistik mit R /
Introductions to Statistics with R and a Linguistic Focus

  • Gries, S. T. (2013). Statistics for linguistics with R. A practical introduction(2nd revised ed.). Berlin – Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
  • Nicenboim, B., & Vasishth, S. (2016). Statistical methods for linguistic research: Foundational Ideas—Part II. Language and Linguistics Compass, 10(11), 591-613.
  • Vasishth, S., & Nicenboim, B. (2016). Statistical methods for linguistic research: Foundational ideas–Part I. Language and Linguistics Compass, 10 (8), 349-369.
  • Winter, B. (2019). Statistics for Linguists: An Introduction Using R. New York: Routledge.



Korpuslinguistik mit R /
Corpus Linguistics with R

  • Gries, S. T. (2009). Quantitative corpus linguistics with R. A practical introduction. Oxford: Routledge.


Einführungen in Mixed Models /
Introductions to Mixed Models

  • Cunnings, I. (2012). An overview of mixed-effects statistical models for second language researchers. Second Language Research 28 (3), 369–382.
  • Winter, B. (2013). ‘Linear Models and Linear Mixed Effects Models in R with Linguistic Applications’, arXiv: 1308.5499


Entscheidungshilfen bei der Erstellung von Mixed Models /
Making Decision in the Creation of Mixed Models

  • Barr, D. J., Levy, R., Scheepers, C., & Tily, H. J. (2013). Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal. Journal of memory and language, 68(3), 255-278.
  • Matuschek, H., Kliegl, R., Vasishth, S., Baayen, R.H., & Bates, D.M.(2015). Balancing type I error and power in linear mixed models. arXiv:1512.01864[stat.AP]
  • Bates, D., Kliegl, R., Vasishth, S., & Baayen, H. (2015). Parsimonious Mixed Models. arXiv:1506.04967[stat.ME]

“Collecting Language Data Using Visual Stimuli” – Summer Term 2020 MA-Class in Cologne

In the sumer term of 2020, I will teach a class on “Die Erhebung von Sprachdaten mit visuellen Stimuli” (collecting language data using visual stimuli). This is part of the MA-programme in linguistics at the University of Cologne. At the end of this blog entry, you can find the German description and links to lists with English readings and resource sites . More information about resources for stimulus-creators (picture-databases, stimulus-archives, field-manual archives etc.) can be found in other pages of the experimentalfieldlinguistics-blog that I have just updated:

These two new additions deserve a special mention:

  • Lahaussois, and Marine Vuillermet (eds.). 2019. Methodological tools for linguistic description and typology (Language Documentation and Conservation SP 16).



Course materials in German and English will be made available via this website in the summer.

Any suggestions for stimuli to include or any other exercises or tools for my students are more than welcome.

All the best data!




Sowohl in der Psycholinguistik als auch in der linguistischen Feldforschung und Sprachdokumentation verwendet man neben Spontansprachaufnahmen und Fragebögen immer häufiger auch visuelle Stimuli, um Menschen zum Sprechen anzuregen und ihre Sprache aufzunehmen. Bei diesen Stimuli handelt es sich oft um Fotos, Zeichnungen oder Videos, die beschrieben werden sollen. Man setzt aber auch physische Objekte ein, um Sprachimpulse zu geben, z.B. Spielzeug, Haushaltsgegenstände oder Naturmaterialien.

In diesem Kurs werden wir diskutieren, wie man solche Stimuli gestaltet und verwendet, z.B. in kontrollierten Experimenten, in Sprachspielen und bei der Erhebung von narrativen Daten. Dabei werden wir verschiedene Archive für frei verfügbare Stimulusmaterialien kennenlernen, aber auch Software zur Bearbeitung oder Präsentation von Stimuli. Daher sollte nach Möglichkeit zu allen Sitzungen ein Laptop mitgebracht werden.

Zugleich werden wir lernen, wie man Stimuli so designt, dass sie alters- und kulturangemessen sind und man mit ihnen ausreichende Mengen von qualitativ hochwertigen und aussagekräftigen Daten für Einzelsprachuntersuchungen oder Sprachvergleichsstudien erheben kann. Dabei werden wir neben generellen Fragen zum Studiendesign auch diskutieren, wie man Befunde aus der Psycholinguistik beim Stimulusdesign nutzen kann. So werden wir uns z.B. mit Studien befassen, die untersuchen, wie Farb- oder Größenkontraste zwischen Objekten zum Gebrauch von Adjektiven anregen (kleines vs. große Huhn). Wir werden uns auch mit psycholinguistischen Studien auseinandersetzen, um herauszufinden, welchen Einfluss die Schreibrichtung in der untersuchten Kultur auf die Betrachtung und Beschreibung von Bildern hat.


Die Studienleistungen bestehen aus mehreren Hausaufgaben. Für die Hausarbeit soll ein eigener Stimulus entwickelt, beschrieben und pilotiert werden. Dabei können vorhandene Materialien kombiniert oder modifiziert werden. So kann man z.B. Einzelbilder aus einem Stimulusarchiv für ein Experiment verwenden. Man kann aber auch ein Storyboard für die Erhebung von narrativen Daten erstellen. Es können auch eigene Bilder, Videos, Spielzeuge oder andere Objekte gestaltet werden.

Literatur und Ressourcen

Zum Einstieg:

  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2010. Production methods. In Elma Blom & Sharon Unsworth (eds.), Experimental methods in language acquisition research, 11-34. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Hellwig, Birgit. 2019. Linguistic diversity, language documentation and psycholinguistics: The role of stimuli. In Aimée Lahaussois & Marine Vuillermet (eds.), Methodological tools for linguistic description and typology (Language Documentation and Conservation SP 16), 5-30.


Weitere Literatur, Informationen und Tutorials zu Software und Experimentdesign sowie Links zu Stimulusarchiven findet man auf den folgenden Ressourcenseiten:


#ScientistsForFuture, #LinguistsForFuture, & #BloggingForFuture: Sustainable Conference Organisation, Event Management, and Stimulus Materials for #Linguistics and #Language Games

#FridaysForFuture. and #ScientistsForFuture have highlighted the fact that sustainability also concerns the daily practices of researchers. Given that I am currently not just a linguist, but also training to be a permaculture designer for sustainable systems, I thought I should make a #BloggingForFuture contribution and share some of the information I have found about sustainable conference organization, event  management, and stimulus materials. Below, I will also share some personal experiences related to research materials and outreach activities. You can also find some information about my new German/English blog on language play, and nature – and other relevant webpages and social media accounts.

Information about Conferences and Flights

There are also some resources in German:

These resources show that we can do a lot more than switching to video-conferencing and getting rid of plastic bottles, disposable cups, and paper copies for conference booklets Some of the ideas for sustainable events also enhance collaboration and education: I particularly like the idea of multi-hub worldwide events with simultaneous sites; and I have always found it very useful to combine conferences with workshops, tutorials, and other satellite events in an easily accessible location.

When it comes to the practical side, we can also learn from non-academic conferences. For instance, events organized by the “Essbare Stadt Köln” (edible city of Cologne) initiative do not just ban plastic cups and non-edible garnishes for food. They have opted for catering by a local food-rescuing company, with proper dishes and mugs, and tasty vegetarian or vegan food that would have been thrown away even though it is perfectly fine to eat – and delicious. And if you should find yourself in Germany and try to do some shopping for your departmental kitchen or a conference, you can make use of a list and map of all zero-waste shops that allow you to buy products without (plastic) packaging. So, there is no need to buy packaged coffee, tea, sugar or cookies. You can simply shop using the containers you already have. If you also want to offer fruit or a broader range of baked goods, Marktschwärmer initiatives in many cities allow you to buy local (and often organic) food online and pick it up from a central location.

Research Materials and Outreach Activities

If you think about academic events, you could also think about outreach events: Why not combine them with material creation, upcycling events and supporting your local public library? When I taught in Essex, my language games club worked together with the local repair cafe; and we occasionally had joint events in the public library, where we would make use of the sewing-machine support from the repair-cafe and create language games materials from old fabric, buttons, and other used materials. People would see us and drop by to get things repaired and ask about sewing and child language acquisition while the students learned useful skills. I am working towards establishing something like this in Cologne at the moment.


A “sew-in” with Essex Language Games Club and Chris Blomeley from Wivenhoe Repair-Reuse-Recycle |

My personal addition to the lists of suggestions for conference organizers concerns ID-holders and plastic badges. If you or your department have a random collection of ID-card holders from past conferences that is too small to reuse for another event, you can also put them to use in your language elicitation and use local materials such as plants instead of spending endless hours laminating pictures and taking them to your fieldsite. This is also useful for outreach events (see pictures below) or for seminars where you practice elicitation methods with your students and want to be able to swap pictures easily without endless lamination. You can find ideas for language games and elicitation with recycled and natural materials on my old languagegamesforall-blog.


If the combination of sustainability, linguistics, and play is something you enjoy, you might also find my new German website useful. It focuses on language, play and nature, hence the brand name “Sprachspinat” (“Speechspinach”) from the German equivalents of language, play and nature – SPRACHe, SPIel und NATur. Articles in German, links and literature as well as practical suggestions in both English and German).This page has a strong sustainability focus and takes up ideas from permaculture, i.e. the design of sustainable systems based on natural systems. While the blog texts and some of the recommended readings are in German, you can also find lists of websites and readings in English as well as language games and elicitation ideas in “international” picture-format. The site is accompanied by a German Twitter account (@sprachspinat) and an English twitter account, @SprachspinatE where you will find news about language, play, nature, sustainability, urban gardening, and local food.


One of my first projects for the Sprachspinat-Label was to design a box that can be taken to schools, kindergardens, and eco-projects for ecological training and language games (training). I have called this box the Wupf-Box, from German Wurm ‘worm’ and Pflanzen ‘plant’. It has the same layers as a raised vegetable bed, a built-in worm-compost tower, plants that can be eaten or used for medical or household purposes (e.g. cleaning), and toys for language games. The box can be used to give workshops about vegetable gardening, permaculture, worm-composting, and language games. As the worms and plants need regular care, you can encourage kids to tend to them and engage with the toys and language game opportunities … Or they can produce pictures for themselves, card games, language prompts and social media, while discussing the choice and spatial arrangements of plants or toys, their colors and sizes, etc.  – all while using language that is rich in adjectives and other modifiers, spatial language, modal verbs, etc.  And – to close the circle – you can use this box to grow the herbs for your conference tea breaks…

I am currently creating different variations. The ones below make use of toys and boxes we already had and did not use so much (we usually need the LEGO animals from sets, but not the blocks that went into the box). Other versions will involve old kitchen utensils, cardboard from old boxes, and natural materials like sticks and fibers. On the 27th of November, I will share my experiences in a free lecture on creating a grow-box with a built-in worm tower in Cologne.


I would love to hear more suggestions! – Have a sustainable future event – in every possible sense!


Social Media Accounts

For more information related to the sustainability of research practices, you can check the relevant webpages (e.g., and FridaysForFuture accounts on various and social media. There are also some linguists who post general information, but also information about events or FridayForFuture-initiatives that involve linguists or the universities where they work (e.g. @StefanMuelller, @fxru or @KonstanzeMarx on Twitter). You can find more using the two hashtags #linguists4future and #linguistsForfuture.

Live long and sustainably!

Sonja Eisenbeiß

P.S.: If you should have a source for hook&loop-fastener that involves upcycling or biologically degradable materials, please let me know. The toys I create and use with others are multi-purpose and get a lot of use in different (language) games; and we do use left-over material where we can. However, in addition to old buttons, hooks, etc. we need larger pieces of fastener to keep the bits and pieces together; and we have not found a fully sustainable replacement for synthetic hook&loop fastener, yet. Maybe you have a suggestion for us …


Updated Info: #Rstats, CLAN, Research Method Readings, and various Tools for Psycholinguistics

Dear users of these pages,

While I was working on my class handouts and some publications, I updated this resource webpage. In particular, I added material to these pages: Most of the additions involve materials written in English, but there are some new sections in my lists of materials and links that involve German materials that I have collected for my teaching in Germany.

You can also check my YouTube account for updated playlists with videos on psycholinguistic research methods, fieldwork & language documentation, endangered languages, and language acquisition. Some of the playlists contain English videos, others consist of German videos. My previous blogpost contains a list of these playlists plus more playlists created by other users.

I hope you will find the new information useful and would appreciate any suggestions!

Sonja Eisenbeiss

YouTube Playlists and Channels for Psycholinguistics, Fieldwork, and Language Documentation

I have created some playlists for my YouTube account. They contain English or German videos that I have found useful for my teaching or for my own training. Some of these videos are short and can be used in class, others are longer and would be good for self-study, for follow-up activities or as a preparation for class:



Useful videos and playlists for psycholinguistics, fieldwork, and language documentation – and many other areas of linguistics – can also be found here:

And if you want to see how videos or songs for children can use (i) frames for the presentation of words and (ii) an interesting combination of attention-catching animal sounds and the “real” animal names, you can check out my playlist with many different language versions of an animal name song for children. I find this very useful for psycholinguistics teaching as it is an engaging prompt for discussions about the use of babywords, repetition, and variation in child-directed speech, but be warned: You might find this hard to get out of your head.

Enjoy the videos!

Sonja Eisenbeiss

P.S.: There are also some video play lists about permacultue & sustainable systems and some video play lists about bees and nature gardens.