Plenaries 2009

Ellen Bialystok, York University, Canada

Plenary Title: How analysis and control lead to advantages and disadvantages in bilingual processing


Ellen Bialystok is a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University and Associate Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1976 and has been a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 2003.  Much of her research has focused on the effect of bilingualism on children’s language and cognitive development, showing accelerated mastery of specific cognitive processes for bilingual children.  This research has now been extended to investigations of adult processing and cognitive aging, showing the continuity of these bilingual advantages into adulthood and the protection against cognitive decline in healthy aging for bilingual older adults.  Other research includes studies of literacy acquisition in young children, models of metalinguistic awareness and second-language acquisition, and the development of spatial cognition and its relation to other cognitive abilities.  She is the author or editor of 7 books and over 100 scientific papers in journals and books.  Among her awards are a Killam Research Fellowship, Walter Gordon Research Fellowship, Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research, and Language Learning Distinguished Scholar in Residence.   

Nick Ellis, University of Michigan

Plenary Title: Implicit and Explicit SLA and their Interface


Nick Ellis is currently Research Scientist at the English Language Institute, Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan. Previously he was for many years in the School of Psychology at University of Wales, Bangor. His research interests include language acquisition, cognition, reading in different languages, corpus linguistics, cognitive linguistics, applied psycholinguistics, complex systems, and computational modeling. Currently his research focuses on second language acquisition, particularly (1) explicit and implicit language learning and their interface, (2) usage-based acquisition and the probabilistic tuning of the system, (3) learned attention and language transfer, (4) vocabulary and phraseology, (5) emergentist accounts of language acquisition, (6) the advanced language learner, (7) applications of psychological theory in language testing and instruction, and (8) scale-free properties of language and their implications for acquisition and use. 

He is the author of more than 130 scientific papers and book chapters and has edited books on Implicit and Explicit Learning of Languages (Academic Press, 1994), Handbook of Spelling: Theory, Process and Intervention (John Wiley, 1994, with Gordon Brown), and Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition (Routledge, 2008, with Peter Robinson). He served as editor of Language Learning from 1998–2002 and is currently the general editor. 

Arthur S. Reber, Brooklyn College

Plenary Title: A few oft-unacknowledged aspects of implicit learning — with, perhaps, some novel ways to think about L1 and L2 acquisition


Born 1940 in Philadelphia, PA, Ivy-schooled with BA from University of Pennsylvania in 1961 and Ph.D. from Brown in 1966. At Brown I was caught in a wonderful bind. Behaviorism was still pretty much in control at Brown but cognitive psychology was brewing to the north at Harvard. Regular pilgrimages were made to spend time with George Miller and his group. 

From these interactions emerged the technique of using artificial grammars to study implicit learning and the gradual development of a theoretical framework that could account for how complexly patterned functions like language could be acquired without top-down modulation.  

The next forty-plus years were focused on this topic and its extended entailments — punctuated by side trips into mathematical models, lexicography, philosophy of mind and poker. 

Academic life took me to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada from 1966 to 1970 and thereafter to Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York with year-long stints as Fulbright Professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria (1977-78) and Visiting Professor at University of Wales, Bangor (1994-95). 

I retired in ’05 and moved to Point Roberts, WA, a geographic oddity (an “exclave”) that is physically separate from the rest of the state. I currently hold a Visiting Professorship back at UBC in Vancouver. 

Bill VanPatten, Texas Tech University

Plenary Title: Stubborn Syntax: How it Resists Explicit Learning


Bill VanPatten is currently Professor of Applied Linguistics and Second Language Studies at Texas Tech University. He is well known for his work in input processing, processing instruction, and general second language acquisition. He is also widely known in applied SLA for his work in communicative language teaching. His current research is focused on monolingual, heritage, and L2 learners’ sentence processing as well as the interface between morphology and syntax in second language acquisition. When not engaged in research and teaching, he writes fiction and naps with his dog, Murphy. 

Michael Ullman, Georgetown University

Plenary Title: Declarative and procedural memory in first and second language


Michael Ullman, Ph.D., is Professor in the Departments of Neuroscience, Psychology, Linguistics and Neurology, Director of the Brain and Language Lab, and Co-Director of the Center for the Brain Basis of Cognition, at Georgetown University. His research primarily examines the neurocognition of language and its relation to memory in first and second language and in brain disorders.