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College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University

Welcome to the SLS Ph.D. Program at Michigan State University

Message from the Director


Welcome to the Ph.D. Program in Second Language Studies (SLS) at Michigan State University. The SLS Ph.D. Program is for researchers and teacher-researchers interested in second language acquisition (SLA), applied linguistics,  bilingualism, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, second or foreign language testing and assessment, and other areas of SLA. Our program provides students with a firm foundation in a range of research techniques and approaches. Students also focus on ways to apply current SLA theories to foreign and second-language (L2) pedagogy. A cornerstone of our program is student-faculty interaction, whether in the classroom as students (where students further their knowledge and develop their skills in SLA and applied linguistics), or outside the classroom in joint research projects.  Students graduate with an outstanding skill set that allows them to contribute to the ongoing scholarly debates in the field of SLA and applied linguistics. Simply put, graduates become leaders in the broader discipline of second language studies and in their future place of employment.

We encourage you to contact us at should you have further questions. 

  • Susan Gass, University Distinguished Professor
  • Director, Second Language Studies


Intro to SLS Program from Susan Gass on Vimeo.


On the SLS-Member Spotlight Page, we are now featuring Dr. Dustin De Felice, assistant professor in the MAFLT Program and SLS affiliate. Read about his current work and interests here:
--March 2, 2015

Le Anne Spino received a Language Learning Dissertation Grant. Le Anne is using the grant to fund her dissertation research on the processing of grammatical gender agreement in L2 Spanish. Congratulations, Le Anne!
--Feb. 26, 2015

Dr. Bill VanPatten received funding to pay for RA and participants from the Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) to research the relationship between typology (word order) and the acquisition of case marking. He will use Latin as the target language with naive first-time learners. Congratulations Bill!
--Feb. 23, 2015

Dr. Aline Godfroid received 20K in funding from the Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) to support two course releases in the Fall. Aline will use the time to write a methodological guide about eye-tracking in SLA research. Congratulations, Aline!
--Feb. 23, 2015

Congratulations to Dr. Bill VanPatten and Megan Smith on their publication in the March 2015 issue of SSLA. Their paper is "Aptitude as grammatical sensitivity and the initial stages of learning Japanese as an L2." Read the abstract here.
--Feb. 22, 2015

Virginia David received a Language Learning Dissertation Grant. Virginia will use the grant to fund her dissertation research on the formats of L2-essay-writing placement examinations. Congratulations Virginia!
--Feb. 10, 2015

News Archive

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Upcoming Events

Open Dissertation Defenses:

  • Fri., May 1, 2:30 PM, B443 Wells: Fei Fei, “Formulaic Language Acquisition in L2 Chinese”
  • Tues., May 5, 1 PM, B342 Wells: Jens Schmidtke, “Speech perception in bilingual and monolingual speakers under normal and adverse listening conditions”


Linguistics Talks, always at 4:30 PM in B342 unless otherwise noted.
See the schedule, which includes Rajesh Bhatt, John Grinstead, & Timothy Leffel here.

Midwest Cognitive Science Conference 2015
Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island, MI
May 10-11, 2015

The Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO) 2015
Boulder, CO
May 27-29, with pre-conf. workshop May 26-27 & 30, 2015

Second Language Research Forum (SLRF) 2015
Georgia State University
Oct. 29-31, 2015
Abstracts due May 1.