Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

One Mind. Two Languages.

Course # 01:090:296:H2
Index# 06043
M 12:10PM-3:10PM
AB 5190 CAC
Nuria Sagarra

How do bilinguals handle having multiple languages in a single mind? Why do adults have difficulty achieving native-like competence in a foreign language? Why do some people learn foreign languages more easily than others? In this course, students will learn about a myriad of topics related to the bilingual mind. These include neural underpinnings of bilingual processing, biological, linguistic and cognitive effects on adults’ difficulty achieving native-like competence in a foreign language, theories on how bilinguals handle multiple languages in a single mind, cognitive individual differences that make foreign language learning easier for some people than for others, and general consequences of bilingualism for cognition and language. The course combines lectures with discussion of empirical studies, and will include two professional talks, two guest speakers, and three guided tours to laboratories employing cutting-edge methodologies in cognitive science: eye tracking, event-related potential, functional magnetic resonance imaging. This course is aimed at undergraduate students with interest in cognitive sciences, psycholinguistics, linguistics, language acquisition, and bilingualism who wish to better understand the cognitive mechanisms that underlie the bilingual mind.

About Professor Sagarra

Nuria Sagarra is Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Rutgers University. Her research straddles the domains of cognitive science, linguistics, and second language acquisition, seeking to identify what factors explain adults’ difficulty learning morphosyntax in a foreign language, with the aim of informing linguistic and cognitive models, as well as instructional practices. She investigates these topics using self-paced reading, eye tracking, and more recently, event-related potentials. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant, and has published in notable journals, including Applied Psycholinguistics, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Language Learning, Lingua, and Studies in Second Language Acquisition.