ESR10 : Phonetic alignment in a non-native language

PhD fellowship

A dual-EEG recording at the IIT Center for Translational Neurophysiology of Speech and Communication in Ferrara.

Objectives:

For adults, mastering the segmental and supra-segmental aspects of a second language (L2) is particularly challenging. Although we know that such a capability is partially maintained during adulthood, we do not know yet how to facilitate effective and long-lasting L2 learning. This project is based on the hypothesis that when people engage in meaningful social interactions, they automatically and implicitly align at multiple linguistic levels, including the phonetic one. ESR10 will tackle the fundamental scientific question of phonetic alignment in L2 and whether it drives long-lasting improvements in L2 skills. Key objectives are (i) to investigate the dynamics of alignment in L2 (English) and (ii) to quantify improvements when participants are engaged in a conversation with native speakers.}


Expected results:

  • Full description and validation of a set of game-like tools to quantify L2 segmental and suprasegmental alignment;
  • Exhaustive investigation about phonetic alignment in L2, its relation with L2 proficiency before training and long term retention of L2 improvements.

Based in Ferrara, Italy

Full-time three-year contract, starting September 2020

PhD enrolment at: University of Ferrara

Main supervisor’s institution: IIT, Ferrara

Main supervisor: Prof Alessandro D’Ausilio

Secondments:

  • IISAS, Bratislava: training on methods for analysing acoustic-prosodic alignment in dialogues (5 months);
  • DAVI, Puteaux: training on how to design effective game-like tools to explore alignment in L2 (6 months).

Co-supervisors’ institutions:

  • IISAS, Bratislava, Slovakia
  • DAVI, Puteaux, France

Benefits

The ESR will be contractually employed for 36 months by the main institution, and will be covered under the social security scheme of the enrolling country. She/he will monthly receive a Living Allowance, a Mobility Allowance and a Family Allowance (if applicable) compliant with the applicable EC Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions-ITN general conditions.

The net salary for ESR1 will be about €2.300-2.700 according to her/his situation.

Eligibility criteria:

Experience eligibility requirement: Eligible applicants must be in the first 4 years of their research careers (full-time equivalent research experience) at the signature of the contract (measured from the time the Master’s degree has been obtained).

Eligible applicants must not hold a Doctoral Degree yet.

Mobility eligibility requirement

The fellow must not have resided in the main institution’s country for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date, and not have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in that country.

Selection process

February-March 2020: Opening of the call

Applications must be sent to administrative support and contain the following:

  1. An up-to-date CV, without gaps, in order for the selection committee to easily check the mobility and experience requirements. CVs that either do not clearly show the applicant’s past experience, or have gaps, will be considered ineligible;
  2. A letter exposing her/his motivation for a COBRA PhD fellowship, and her preference for two of the fifteen PhD projects proposed in COBRA;
  3. At least 1 reference letter (in English) from one former supervisor and/or lecturer;
  4. The scan of the degree (usually the master’s degree) which would formally entitles her/him to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained, or in the country in which the researcher will be recruited. If the degree has not been obtained yet, the applicant will have to provide a declaration of her/his university stating that the degree will be obtained before the expected starting date;
  5. Transcripts of records (document indicating the applicant’s ranking and marks within her/his master’s degree as well as the courses/modules she/he has followed).

Admissions time-line

  • April 2020: Selection & ranking of pre-selected candidates
  • May 2020: pre-selected candidates’ interviews
  • June 2020: Notification of the selected candidates
  • September-October 2020: beginning of contracts

Additional comments

REQUIRED EDUCATION LEVEL: Master’s degree or equivalent
REQUIRED LANGUAGES: ENGLISH (Good)

Specific Requirements:

Applications must be in English and will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Educational record;
  • Scientific quality of the applicant’s CV;
  • Expected impact and benefit to the fellow and to the project;
  • Previous experiences in the area of the COBRA research programme.

COBRA supports equal opportunity and encourages female researchers to apply for positions.

In the event that the ESR recruited has a disability such that her/his participation in the project is not possible without extra financial support, the host institution will apply for a dedicated Special Needs Lump Sum allowance (SNLS) to the European Commission.

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