Postdoctoral Researcher in Bilingualism

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Research at the Faculty of Humanities UvA is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute of Humanities Research. The Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication, one of the six research schools, currently has a vacant position for a post-doctoral researcher as part of the NWO-funded project A communicative advantage of bilingualism: Understanding its origin and its scope led by dr. Josje Verhagen (University of Amsterdam). Applications are now invited from excellent candidates who wish to conduct research on child bilingualism.

What are you going to do

The larger project that this post-doc project is embedded in further investigates a poorly understood observation in earlier research on child bilingualism. This observation holds that bilingual children make better use of non-verbal communicative cues such as gestures and eye gaze of other speakers during language interactions than monolingual children and are better in taking into account what other speakers do (and do not) see and know. These findings indicate that children respond more appropriately to other speakers’ communicative behaviors than their monolingual peers. What is still unknown, however, is why bilingual children are better communicators. Furthermore, it is currently unknown if the advantage is found in linguistic interactions ‘in the wild’ and whether it helps bilingual children learn a new language.

In this post-doc project, you will focus on the question of whether bilingual children’s enhanced communication skills extend to more naturalistic language than previously investigated. The project has two main aims. First, it asks whether bilinguals’ enhanced communicative abilities can be observed for non-literal language. In non-literal language, such as indirect requests, irony and white lies, a message has to be inferred through contextual and non-verbal cues (eye gaze, gesture, contextual cues) – thus, the type of information that bilingual children have been shown to be more sensitive to. You will conduct language experiments with monolingual and bilingual children to investigate whether bilingual children develop an earlier understanding of non-literal language, . The second aim of project is to see whether bilinguals’ enhanced communicative abilities can be observed from real-life language interactions. To investigate this, you will collect observational data from semi-spontaneous play sessions in the lab and from dinner table conversations at children’s homes. You will code these observations for a wide range of communicative behaviors involving both verbal and non-verbal language. Besides conducting experimental and observational studies, you will assist the PI and the project manager in the project with valorization activities targeting parents in bilingual families and professionals working with bilingual children (e.g., teachers at (bilingual) primary schools).

Your tasks and responsibilities:

  • designing, adapting, and conducting language experiments with young children;
  • processing, analysing, and interpreting results of these experiments, including statistical analyses;
  • collecting observational data and coding these data for communicative behaviors;
  • presenting research results at workshops and conferences;
  • publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals;
  • collaborating in a research team;
  • assisting with the organization of valorization activities;
  • teaching in BA programmes (optional);
  • PhD co-supervision.
What do we require

You take a strong interest in child bilingualism and are highly motivated to carry out your own project within the context of the larger research team.

Your experience and profile:

  • a PhD in (psycho)linguistics or a related field;
  • demonstratable knowledge of research on (bilingual) child language development;
  • experience with doing experimental research;
  • experience with collecting observational data;
  • strong methodological and statistical skills;
  • affinity with young children;
  • excellent oral and written presentation skills;
  • excellent social, collaboration, and organisational skills;
  • good knowledge of Dutch.
Our offer

You will be appointed at the Department of Dutch Studies of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam and will conduct the research in research school The Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication. The appointment is for threeyears for 0.8 FTE under the terms of employment currently valid for the Faculty. A contract will first be given for 12 months. Contingent on a positive performance evaluation the contract will be extended with 24 months. The intended starting date of the contract is 1 February 2022. The UFO profile for this position is, dependent on relevant experience, Researcher 4 (scale 10) or Researcher 3 (scale 11).The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week, will range from €3,491 (scale 10) up to a maximum of €5,127 (scale 11), depending on experience and qualifications, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants.

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