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About this Cambridge Elements series

Cambridge Elements in Second Language Acquisition is a series which showcases a high-quality set of updatable, concise works that address how learners come to internalize the linguistic system of another language and how they make use of that linguistic system. The rapid development of second language acquisition (SLA) over the last several decades has molded an interdisciplinary field largely informed by education, linguistics, psychology, neurology, among other disciplines. Consequently, SLA draws on a wide-range of theoretical views, hypotheses, and frameworks about the way in which second language learners create and develop new language systems.  

Areas of SLA research and theories range from rationalist and linguistic to cognitive, psycholinguistic, and social, with the intent of studying some of the key issues, processes, and mechanisms involved in the acquisition of languages. From a rationalist perspective of SLA, humans have an innate capacity for the development of language and are genetically programmed to develop their linguistic systems in certain ways. A perspective of SLA from linguistics focuses on the language dimension and the linguistic system underlying second language grammars and their construction. Cognitive perspectives are interested in knowing how the human brain processes and generates new information. Psycholinguistic views of SLA seek to understand how L2 learners process information, organize their knowledge, and subsequently use that knowledge. From a sociolinguistic perspective, variation and changes in the learner’s L2 linguistic knowledge are caused by a number of explorable social phenomena.  

About the Editors

Alessandro Benati (School of Education, University College Dublin) has held academic positions in several British and overseas institutions. He is known for his work in second language acquisition, and he published ground-breaking research on the pedagogical framework called processing instruction. His research on processing instruction has been recently driven by the use of new online measurements (e.g., eye tracking, and self-paced reading). Alessandro has coordinated national and international high-impact research projects which have been influential in determining educational policy and had an impact in providing effective language teacher training programs. He is the author and co-author of several research monographs, peer-reviewed articles in high-ranked journals, and editor and co-editor of book series and scientific journals such as Cambridge Elements in SLA and Instructed Second Language Acquisition. He was a member of the sub-panel for Modern Languages and Linguistics for the Research Excellence Framework for England (REF 2021), AHRC Panel, and he is an Honorary Professor at York SJ University (UK), University of Hong Kong (China), Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University (Australia), and Visiting Professor at Anaheim University (USA)

John W. Schwieter is Full Professor of Spanish and Linguistics and Director of the Language Acquisition, Multilingualism, and Cognition Laboratory and Bilingualism Matters at Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada). His research interests include: psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic approaches to multilingualism and language acquisition; second language teaching and learning; translation and cognition; and language, culture, and society. He is the founding Executive Editor of the book series Bilingual Processing and Acquisition (Benjamins) and Co-Editor of Cambridge Elements in Second Language Acquisition. Some of his recent books include The Cambridge Handbook of Language Learning (2019); The Handbook of the Neuroscience of Multilingualism (2019, Wiley-Blackwell); The Handbook of Translation and Cognition (2017, Wiley-Blackwell); and The Cambridge Handbook of Bilingual Processing (2015). His research has appeared in journals such as: Bilingualism: Language and Cognition; Frontiers in Psychology; International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism; Language Learning; Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism; among others.

Editorial Advisory Board

  • Sue Gass, Michigan State University, United States    
  • Kimberly Geeslin, Indiana University, United States    
  • Michael Leeser, Florida State University, United States    
  • Michael Long, University of Maryland, United States    
  • Luke Plonsky, Northern Arizona University, United States    
  • Leah Roberts, University of York, England    
  • Peter Robinson, Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan    
  • Jason Rothman, University of Reading, England    
  • Roumyana Slabakova, University of Southampton, England    
  • Pavel Trofimovich, Concordia University, Canada  

Areas of Interest

Dozens of topics in SLA will serve as individual Elements in this series. The series is particularly interested in the following overarching areas

  • Intersections of SLA and other domains such as morphology, syntax, phonology, pragmatics, vocabulary, etc.
  • The role of age, attention, awareness, frequency, input, output, interaction, etc.
  • Cognitive factors, brain activity, mental representations/competence, working memory, etc.
  • Individual learner differences: affective factors, aptitude, learner agency, learning strategies, motivation, etc.
  • Instruction: explicit and implicit, collaborative work, corrective feedback, focus on form, formal and informal, task-based, etc.
  • Methodological issues: task modality, task repetition, eye-tracking and neuroscientific measures, social approaches, etc.
  • Processes: decoding writing, listening processes, skill-building processes/developmental internal processes, parsing, etc.

Each Element in this series answers several important questions:

  • What are the key concepts?
  • What are the main branches of research?
  • What are the implications for SLA?
  • What are the implications for pedagogy?
  • What are the new avenues for research?
  • What are the key readings?
Contact the editors

If you would like more information about this series, or are interested in writing an Element, email John W. Schwieter at or Alessandro Benati at