PIRE: Translating cognitive and brain science in the laboratory and field to language learning environments

Project: Research project

Project Details


OISE-1545900: PIRE: Translating cognitive and brain science in the laboratory and field to language learning environments

PI: Judith F. Kroll, The Pennsylvania State University

Co-PIs: Paola E. Dussias, The Pennsylvania State University

John Lipski, The Pennsylvania State University

Janet van Hell, The Pennsylvania State University

In this PIRE project, The Pennsylvania State University partners with domestic and international collaborators in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, to conduct research that exploits the excitement of recent scientific discoveries that demonstrate that the use of two or more languages changes minds and brains to be more open to learning, more cognitively flexible, and more resistant to cognitive decline. The goal of the project is to translate the science of language learning for education and to examine the contexts and consequences of language learning in the classroom and in the field for a population who are increasingly diverse and range from learners to highly proficient bilinguals. The planned research will impact learners immersed in their native or second language, examine bilinguals who are young and old, and develop new models of learning and literacy. This PIRE will bring language science from the laboratory to practice and will integrate field research with laboratory-based experimentation to provide unique new data on minority and endangered languages, populations with limited literacy, and the consequences of living and learning in a multilingual environment. It will train a diverse workforce of language scientists to be prepared to conduct both basic and applied research and will develop new international collaborations that translate basic science in culturally diverse contexts.

Research on language learning and bilingualism has been fueled by a set of scientific discoveries made possible by emerging neuroscience technologies and the analysis of large scale corpora. These new discoveries show that there is far greater experience-induced plasticity than traditionally understood. Not only are infants and young children open to new learning, but older children, young adults, and even older adults are open to new experience that changes their brains and behavior. The broad PIRE network of partnerships will enable investigations in contexts where the form of language learning and language contact differ from the environments that have typically informed research to date. The PIRE will train undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows to conduct translational research across three broad themes: (1) Language learning across the life span; (2) The role of instructional approaches for successful learning outcomes; and (3) The impact of diverse social environments for language learning. The planned research will exploit a range of behavioral, neuroscience, and field methods to identify readiness and need for intervention, to track learning in real time, and to assess new learning outcomes.

Effective start/end date4/1/163/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $5,000,000.00


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