The Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC) currently has two vacant PhD positions as part of the project “How literacy shapes language learning”, led by main researcher Prof.  Sible Andringa and funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research.

Within the University of Amsterdam, the ACLC represents the thriving linguistics community, which has ranked highest in continental Europe on the QS World University Rankings by Subject for years. The ACLC is home to several research groups. The current project falls under the Language Learning, Literacy and Multilingualism research group.

What are you going to do

In the Netherlands and elsewhere, there are substantial groups of immigrant children and adults that face the difficult task of learning to read and write while acquiring a second language (L2). We know that literacy imbues all kinds of cognitive changes, but we do not understand well yet what these changes mean for how (effectively) a language is learned. This project focuses specifically on the relationship between literacy, meta-linguistic cognition, and language acquisition by charting the language acquisition processes of emerging readers. The project tries to understand how literacy changes language acquisition by following groups of emerging readers (children and adults with an immigrant background) longitudinally, when learning the second language (i.e., Dutch) and simultaneously learning to read and write. In doing so, this project aims to advance theories of second language acquisition as well as improve L2 learning and instruction for emerging readers. This project will be conducted within the Dutch educational context and envisages a mix of methods ranging from descriptive and qualitative techniques to quantitative psycholinguistic experimentation, including the use of eye-tracking methods and intensive longitudinal data collection in time series designs.

The goals for both PhD projects are to study 1) how metalinguistic ability develops in relation to increasing literacy skills and cognitive maturation; 2) how this development affects the ability to learn a second language and 3) how this interacts with individual difference variables such as cognitive aptitude for second language learning and socio-affective variables. Envisaged methods are guided elicitation experiments in combination with qualitative analyses of observed behaviour, cross-sectional behavioural language learning experiments, and multivariate time series or panel studies in which a small group of learners is followed intensively over a longer period of time. The focus is on immigrant children (PhD 1) and immigrant adults (PhD 2) that learn Dutch as a second language while they also learn to read, but comparisons with literate and/or L1 groups are envisaged in some studies. A postdoctoral researcher will also be recruited to investigate how emerging readers begin to incorporate the written modality into their language learning process.

You will be part of a team of researchers that take on the challenge of increasing our understanding of second language acquisition processes in these understudied populations. The project team will consist of two PhD students, one post-doctoral researcher and the PI, and will be supported by project assistants and knowledgeable PhD supervisors. The project is subdivided into three clearly delineated but closely related subprojects that will collaborate for design and materials development; The PhD projects will focus on child and adult second language (i.e., Dutch) learning by emerging readers, respectively, but there may be possibilities for redrawing boundaries between subprojects depending on team members’ expertise and wishes.

Tasks and responsibilities:

  • Designing, adapting, and conducting observational and experimental studies with second language learners who are emerging readers
  • Processing, analysing, and interpreting results of these data collections, including statistical analyses
  • Publishing the results in peer-reviewed journals
  • Completing and defending a PhD thesis within the period of appointment
  • Presenting research results at workshops and conferences
  • Collaborating in an interdisciplinary research team
  • Assisting with the organization of valorisation activities
  • Teaching in BA programmes in years 2 and 3 of the PhD project
  • Participating in the training program of the ACLC and the national research school (LOT)

What do you have to offer

You take a strong interest in the topic of this project and are highly motivated to carry out your own project within the context of the larger research team. Studying populations that cannot read and write requires flexibility, creativity, excellent methodological skills and sensitivity for the specific challenges that these groups face when learning a second language.

Your experience and profile:

  • a completed Master’s degree in linguistics, education, psychology or a closely related field, demonstrated by an outstanding master’s thesis. You may apply if you have not yet completed your Master’s degree only if you provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before the preferred starting date of this project, which is 1 February 2023
  • demonstrable affinity with second language acquisition, bilingual development, and/or emerging literacy
  • excellent research skills, including experience with statistical analyses
  • excellent academic writing and presentation skills
  • strong communicative and organisational skills, a cooperative attitude and strong commitment to team science
  • enthusiasm for communicating academic research to non-academic audiences
  • commitment to open science practices
  • excellent command of English and (working) knowledge of Dutch

Please note that if you already hold a doctorate/PhD or are working towards obtaining a similar degree elsewhere, you will not be admitted to a doctoral programme at the UvA.

What can we offer you

We offer a temporary employment contract for the period of 48 months. The first contract will be for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation within the first 12 months. The employment contract is for 38 hours (1,0 fte) a week. The preferred starting date is 01 February 2023.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and relevant experience, ranges from € 2,541 up to a maximum of € 3,247. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8.3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

What else do we offer:

  • PhD candidates have free access to courses offered by the ACLC and LOT
  • excellent possibilities for further professional development and education
  • an enthusiastic, inspiring and professional academic team
  • participation in the vibrant Language Learning, Literacy and Multilingualism research group and any other research group you may wish you to join

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in de field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact prof. Sible Andringa (

Job application

We look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the link below. The deadline for applying for this vacancy is 30 October 2022.

Applications should include the following information (submitted in one pdf):

  • A letter of motivation.
  • A full academic CV.
  • A list of relevant BA modules and all Master-level modules you have taken, with an official transcript of grades.
  • The names and contact details of two referents, including your thesis advisor, who may be approached by the selection committee.
  • A writing sample, for example a published paper or (a chapter from) your MA thesis.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.

The interviews will most likely be held in the second or third week of November.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

If you encounter Error GBB451/ GBC451, please try using a VPN connection when outside of the European Union. You can reach out to our HR Department if the error continues. They will gladly help you with your application. 

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