Roumyana Slabakova

Chair of Applied Linguistics, University of Southampton

I was born in Varna, Bulgaria and studied at the English-medium high school there. I completed my undergraduate education in English Philology at the Sofia University "Kliment Ohridski," specializing in linguistics and educational psychology. I taught English for academic purposes at the same university before I embarked on my postgraduate studies. My PhD degree was awarded by McGill University, Montreal, Canada, where I studied under the supervision of Professor Lydia White. My dissertation investigated the second language acquisition of aspect by Bulgarian native speakers learning English. I taught and conducted research at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA before I came to the University of Southampton.

I am putting the final touches on the textbook "Second Language Acquisition", to be published by Oxford University Press this year.

My research is grounded in generative linguistic theory and explores the second language (L2) acquisition process. My theoretical focus is the acquisition of grammatical structure and its interaction with meaning. I use online and offline psycholinguistic methodologies to investigate the following theoretical issues:

What is the linguistic nature of the bilingual and multilingual grammar?

Are there some properties of language (e.g. words, sounds, sentence structure) that are easier to acquire than others (e.g. functional morphemes, grammatical meanings)? Are there are some properties, such as pragmatic universals, that will come for free in the grammar of the learner?

Can lexical, phrasal and sentence meaning be acquired in the L2? How does the interface between form and meaning affect the L2 acquisition of meaning?

What is the effect of the native language in the acquisition of a second language? What are the effects of the native and the second language in the acquisition of a third language?

How does linguistic and processing complexity affect knowledge of meaning in the L2? How do children acquiring their native language and adult L2 learners compare in this respect?


  • –present
    Chair of Applied Linguistics, University of Southampton


  • 1998 
    McGill University, PhD Linguistics