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II.3.7. Increasing the effectiveness and internationalisation of research projects within the area of multilingualism

IDUB Programme Objective(s)

  • II.3 Improving the capacity to cooperate by increasing research capabilities

Name of POB/activity group



  1. Combining the competences of researchers from various disciplines (e.g., linguistics and psychology).
  2. Establishing new international contacts and expanding existing ones (scientific and didactic).
  3. To increase the impact of research on multilingualism conducted at the University of Warsaw on world science.


Multilingualism may be distinguished as social – that is, appearing in given areas (linguistic diversity), and individual (individual plurilingualism), concerning those who use a constellation of different languages. Due to mobility and migration, many people develop multilingually or attain multilingualism through education. However, there is still a lack of methodologically-sound research to explain linguistic and cognitive aspects of bilingual and multilingual people, as well as how they function. This type of research involves an inter-disciplinary approach and combining the know-how of linguists, psychologists, sociologists, and ethnologists, among others.

In the project, we focus on individual bilingualism and multilingualism, but we propose collaborating with researchers on social multilingualism, especially in the context of minority languages and migration (Prof. dr. hab. Justyna Olko, the Faculty of Artes Liberales). Ground-breaking research on individual multilingualism has been carried out in the research teams of three faculties, so far: Modern Languages (Dr hab. Agnieszka Otwinowska-Kasztelanic), Psychology (Dr hab. Ewa Haman), and Applied Linguistics (Dr hab. Agnieszka Szarkowska).

The Experimental Linguistics Lab under the direction of Dr hab. Agnieszka Otwinowska-Kasztelanic (Faculty of Modern Languages) conducts research on the acquisition of vocabulary and grammar in second, third, and subsequent languages, the phenomena of interlingual transfer in multilingual people, bilingualism in children, and research on bilingualism and multilingualism in the educational context. The laboratory works informally with several other centres in Europe.

The Multilingual Development and Assessment Lab (Multi-LADA Lab), headed by Dr hab. Ewa Haman (the Faculty of Psychology), is a research project on bilingual and multilingual acquisition processes, and works to create tools for assessing the level of linguistic development among multilingual children. The Laboratory cooperates with more than 20 research centres in Europe and worldwide, and coordinates work on Inter-Language Lexical Tasks, a tool which is currently available in 29 languages (see http://psychologia.pl/clts/) and collaborates in forming other research instruments.

The Audiovisual Translation Lab, headed by Dr hab. Agnieszka Szarkowska (Institute of Applied Linguistics), conducts research on multilingual audiovisual translation, subtitle reading (through ophthalmography), and media accessibility for the blind, deaf, and elderly. The laboratory cooperates informally with several centres in Europe and Australia.

Research conducted at the University of Warsaw on multilingualism is already known worldwide, as evidenced by numerous publications in prestigious journals, scientific monographs, and activity in international networks and forums on multilingualism (COST Action IS0804 and IS1306, the boards of the International Association of Multilingualism, European Association for Studies in Screen Translation, International Association for the Study of Child Language). The effectiveness and quality of the research has been reflected in grants from the NCN, NPRH, the International Visegrad Fund, and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

It is assumed that by combining the skills of researchers from various disciplines and establishing new international contacts, it will be possible to increase the impact of the research conducted at the University on global science. It will also be possible to intensify research through new joint initiatives and coordination with the activities of other researchers from UW. We envisage active collaboration with the newly established Centre for Research on Culture, Language and Mind (see Action I.3.5) and the international project “Linguistic-cultural diversity, biodiversity and the environment” (Action II.3.2). In order to achieve the objectives of Action II.3.7, we intend to carry out the tasks described below.


  1. Creating a Multi-R-Hub (Multilingualism Research Hub) to combine the skills of researchers from different disciplines (linguistics, psychology)

We intend to combine the activities of the three teams mentioned above, to form a joint Multilingualism Research Hub (Multi-R-Hub) in order to organise research on multilingualism at the University of Warsaw. This will allow us to better utilise the infrastructure at UW and facilitate knowledge transfer. As part of Multi-R-Hub, the following activities will take place:

  • We will set up a joint laboratory at Dobra 55;
  • We will use existing research infrastructure (a soundproofed recording studio, space for eye-tracking and computer examinations);
  • We will borrow and buy testing equipment (computers and software, eye-trackers, and will likely buy EEG);
  • We will invest in research software.

These steps will allow us to optimise and increase our research activity at UW through interdisciplinary cooperation, utilise the infrastructure at UW to a greater degree, and introduce knowledge transfer among the teams. We will create joint research projects within UW by applying for additional domestic (e.g., NCN, NAWA) and foreign funds, along with foreign partners (e.g., Norwegian funds, RISE). We will announce at least three post-doc competitions for the implementation of specific tasks and projects (2×3 years from the budget of this Action, and 1×2 years from the central budget).

  1. Establishing new international (scientific and didactic) contacts and enlarging areas of cooperation with those that we already have

We intend to increase research activity by establishing (or formalising existing) research and training cooperation, with the following centres:

  • Institute of Multilingualism, Freiburg, Switzerland;
  • MultiLing, University of Oslo, Norway;
  • Language and Cognition Lab, Heidelberg University, Germany (within the 4EU+ Alliance);
  • ZAS – Leibniz Centre for General Linguistics, Berlin, Germany;
  • Macquarie University, Australia;
  • Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic (within the 4EU+ Alliance)

As part of the 4EU+ Alliance, we will create smaller projects related to multilingualism. We will introduce a system for staff exchanges and training sessions (guest lectures/doctoral and post-doc training). Part of the sessions will be conducted online (among them joint seminars).

We are planning mini-grants, such as Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSM), where a researcher travels to a foreign partner to perform a research task, get help, or apply know-how.

Foreign cooperation will allow for joint projects, publications, and exchanges from different centres. This will strengthen the position of UW in the international arena and increase the number of publications in the best journals.

  1. Increasing the international impact of the multilingualism research being carried out at the University of Warsaw

We intend to promote high-quality research in the humanities and social sciences and to dynamically increase the number of publications in world-class journals. First of all, authors of good research in JCR’s high-scoring bilingual and multilingual studies journals will be able to apply for Open Access funding from Action II.3.7. We will use the funds for Open Access publications for Polish teams and also to publish research conducted jointly with our foreign partners.

An important point will be the organisation of joint conference presentations, panels in large conferences on bilingualism and multilingualism (including the ISB13 – International Symposium on Bilingualism, which will be held at the University of Warsaw in 2021.

In order to increase the impact of our research on world science, we also intend to train young researchers, including doctoral candidates. We will invest in two PhD scholarships. A doctoral summer school, “The Psycholinguistics of Multilingualism”, is planned for 2020 (as part of the ZIP fund and the 4EU+ partnership with Heidelberg and Prague, which will be continued in upcoming years). It will teach how to design and conduct high-calibre research on language acquisition and learning, ways of conducting empirical research on bilingual and multilingual people, how to use modern research equipment, and approaches to statistical methods of data analysis.

Coordinating unit

  • Faculty of Modern Languages

Entities involved in implementation

  • Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Institute of Applied Linguistics
  • Faculty of Psychology