Alyona Belikova

Alyona Belikova

PhD Candidate
Interests: Second and first language acquisition, bilingualism, syntax, morphology
alyona.belikova AT
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[download CV]

About me: I am currently completing a PhD in Linguistics at McGill University, under the supervision of Prof. Lydia White (defence scheduled for fall 2013). I specialize in theoretical approaches to the study of second language (L2) acquisition, with a particular focus on the implications of theories of syntax and morphology for theories of language acquisition and bilingualism. As my professional interests go beyond my immediate area of expertise, I have a quite diverse linguistic background. (See my [CV] for details.) While finishing my dissertation, I also hold a visiting scholar/instructor position at the University of Calgary (Department of Linguistics).

Research: My main focus is on adult L2 acquisition, where I have been pursuing several different lines of research. In my PhD dissertation, I bring together an interest in language acquisition and theoretical linguistics. In particular, I am researching the L2 acquisition of French reflexive and reciprocal verbs by native speakers of Russian and English, as well as the question of whether misleading classroom instruction can affect this acquisition (with the tentative conclusion that it cannot). [Read more...] While focusing on the L2 acquisition of French reflexive and reciprocal verbs, I also reformulate the existing literature on the related phenomena in light of current developments in theoretical syntax (minimalist assumptions, etc.) and develop an analysis which has adequate empirical coverage and also does away with certain previous stipulations.

In addition to my own thesis research, I have engaged in collaborative research in the past few years. Together with Lydia White (McGill University), I have reinterpreted existing studies on acquisition of wh-islands in English; we have reviewed changes to theoretical accounts of islands effects over the years, and the consequences of these changes for theories of L2 acquisition. In another collaborative project – with Lydia White, Paul Hagstrom (Boston University), Tanja Kupisch (University of Hamburg/Lund University) and Öner Özçelik (Indiana University) – we have been investigating the knowledge of restrictions on the existential construction in the L2 English (there existentials) of native speakers of Turkish and Russian, and – more recently – in the German and Turkish of early German-Turkish bilinguals. This research draws on a particular difference between English and German, on the one hand, and Turkish and Russian, on the other, which has been largely ignored in the literature on the definiteness effect. I have also worked on bilingual child acquisition, including a project on filler syllables in the speech of a German-English bilingual child, in collaboration with Tanja Kupisch and fellow graduate students at McGill. Finally, I acted as a research assistant for Andrea Gualmini (McGill University/Utrecht University), conducting a study on children’s acquisition of English syntax and semantics. [Read more...]

Before coming to McGill, I had been mostly trained as a theoretical linguist, specializing in theoretical syntax at Tel-Aviv University. In particular, my MA thesis taps into the syntax of Russian participial relative clauses, which I followed up on and developed into one of my PhD evaluation papers at McGill, focusing on the syntax of participial relatives cross-linguistically. In the course of my MA studies, I also became interested in the relexification hypothesis of Modern Hebrew genesis, and conducted a small-scale research project on relative clauses supporting it, which was ultimately presented at a historical linguistics conference. [Read more...] Also, before coming to Tel-Aviv University, I had received substantial training in traditional Russian linguistics as a part of my undergraduate studies in Russia.

Teaching: In winter 2010, spring 2012 and winter 2013 I taught Introduction to Linguistics 1 (LING 201) and Introduction to Linguistics 2 (LING 203) at the University of Calgary. I was fully responsible for these courses, including preparation and delivery of lectures to students, the exact details of the course curriculum, assignments, examinations, etc. I am teaching Second Language Acquisition 2 (Generative Approaches to L2 Morphosyntax, LING 411) and Topics in Second Language Acquisition (Reflexives and Reciprocals in Second Language Acquisition, LING 599.01/633.02) at the University of Calgary in the 2013-2014 academic year.

Prior to this, I acted as a teaching assistant for a series of introductory courses, such as Introduction to Linguistics (two semesters at McGill and two semesters at Tel-Aviv University), Introduction to the Study of Language (one semester, McGill) and Foundations of Theoretical Linguistics (three semesters, Tel-Aviv University). As for upper level courses, I was a teaching assistant and a grader for Language Acquisition, Linguistic Aspects of Bilingualism and Morphology (McGill), and for Beginning Syntax (Tel-Aviv University). In my capacity as a teaching assistant, I conducted and prepared materials for weekly discussion groups to supplement lectures, held office hours, assisted in preparation and administration of assignments and examinations, and graded them. As a part of this TA experience, I also delivered ad hoc lectures for Linguistic Aspects of Bilingualism, where I was responsible for covering lectures on second language acquisition, as well as supervising undergraduate students in their final research projects and grading their term papers.

Service: I have held a number of academic service positions as a graduate student, including serving as editor of conference proceedings, serving on conference organizing committees, service on a hiring committee, manuscript reviewing, abstract reviewing, etc.
(See my [CV] for details.)

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or if you wish to ask for PDFs of any of my papers or conference handouts.

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