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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.  

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?

About the Editors

Alessandro Benati is the Head of the English Department at the American University of Sharjah. He has previously worked in the United Kingdom at the University of Greenwich, Queen Mary and Westfield College, Middlesex University, and the University of Portsmouth. He is honorary visiting professor at the University of York St john, UK. Alessandro is internationally known for his research in second language acquisition and second language teaching. He has published ground-breaking research with James Lee on the pedagogical framework called processing instruction. He is co-Editor of the journal ISLA (Equinox Publishing), and Editor of the Advanced ISLA Research Book Series for Bloomsbury Publishing. He is a member of the editorial board for the journal Language Teaching Research and Co-Editor of the Grammar World Japanese online platform. He has recently launched with John Schwieter a new series for Cambridge University Press called Elements in Second Language Acquisition. Alessandro has co-ordinated national and international high-impact research projects funded by the European Union, Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, Sassakawa Foundation, Japanese MEXT, and the School Challenge. He is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and the REF Panel 2021.He is currently working on two monographs (Key Questions in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction and Key Issues in Second Language Teaching) for Cambridge University Press

John W. Schwieter is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics and Faculty of Arts Teaching Scholar at Wilfrid Laurier University. 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 Executive Editor of the book series Bilingual Processing and Acquisition (Benjamins) and Editor or Co-Editor of The Cambridge Handbook of Language Learning; The Handbook of Translation and Cognition (2017, Wiley-Blackwell); Cognitive control and consequences of multilingualism (2016, Benjamins); and The Cambridge Handbook of Bilingual Processing (2015, Cambridge University Press). Some of Schwieter’s 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  

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