Dr Norbert Vanek

MPhil, PhD, Cantab (College: Christ's); SFHEA, York


My appointment as a Senior Lecturer at the School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics started in July 2020. Before joining the University of Auckland, I worked as a lecturer and a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Language Learning and Use at the University of York. My research activities there focused on conceptual reorganisation in highly advanced second language learners, and the main modules I led were Bilingualism and Research Methods.   

I completed a PhD (2013) at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, and an MPhil (2008) at the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics, both at the University of Cambridge. My doctoral research focused on temporal reference in the discourse of mono/bilingual populations and learner varieties. Previously, I worked with Cambridge ESOL (2008-2010) to examine criterial features for second language proficiency levels within the English Profile Project. I also hold an MA in TESOL and in European studies (2003) from the University of Constantine the Philosopher in Slovakia, and am a Senior Fellow of Advance HE (formerly the Higher Education Academy).

Research | Current

My research activities centre on linguistic modulations of cognitive processes in adults. I explore how language-entrained routines in expression interact with speakers’ biases in similarity judgements, attention and memory. I investigate the typological differences across various languages including Chinese, Czech, German, Hungarian, Russian, Spanish and English to understand how speakers form associations between sensory input and linguistic information. I compare data from native speakers and bilinguals or language learners to see which patterns are language-specific, learner-specific, and which are more universal. My approach is multidisciplinary, I combine quantitative and qualitative linguistic analyses with categorisation and memory tests, eye-tracking data and event-related brain potentials.  

Teaching | Current

LANGTCHG 708 - Experimental Approaches to Language Learning 

LANGTCHG 762 - Second Language Acquisition 

LANGTCHG 207: Instructed Language Learning

Postgraduate supervision

*** I welcome PhD applications in any of the following areas: bilingualism and thought, cross-linguistic influence in second language acquisition, event cognition/linearisation/segmentation/structuring, linguistic relativity, reference to time/space/person/negation in L2, linguistic modulations in olfactory/gustatory/tactile/visual category formation ***


Completed PhD supervision

Haoruo Zhang (2019, University of York). From ‘No, she does’ to ‘Yes, she does’: On the conceptual changes in the processing of negative yes-no questions in Chinese-English bilinguals.

Veronica Garcia Castro (2018, University of York). Incidental learning of novel words in adult Spanish speaking learners of English as a second language: Measures of lexical configuration and lexical engagement and the effects of learners’ individual differences

Mengmeng Tang (2018, University of York). Influence of the finite and non-finite distinction in the L1 on the acquisition and processing of multi-verb constructions in the L2: A bidirectional study of Chinese learners of L2 English and English learners of L2 Chinese.  


External PhD examiner roles

Adam Kříž (2020, Charles Uviversity, Prague). Language behaviour of native speakers of Slovak in Bohemia.

Harriet Lowe (2019, University of Greenwich, London). Seeing is believing: Eye-tracking measures on the effects of Processing Instruction on cognitive processing strategies and the trainability of Language Analytical Ability. 


2017. Top Reviewers for University of York – UK (Arts and Humanities) Award

2015-18.  Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, Centre for Research in Language Learning and Use, University of York

2009-12. European Trust Award, Emily & Gordon Bottomley Award, Philosophical Society Grant, University of Cambridge  

Areas of expertise

  • psycholinguistic approaches to bilingualism
  • second language learning
  • cognitive science

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Membership of learned societies

Cognitive Science Society, International Cognitive Linguistics Association, American Association for Applied Linguistics, UK Cognitive Linguistics Association, British Association for Applied Linguistics 


Nature Scientific Reports; Cognitive Science; Language, Cognition and Neuroscience; International Journal of Bilingualism, Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics; Language Learning; Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism; Journal of Child Language; International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching; Language, Interaction and Aquisition, Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Second Language Research

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Vanek, N., Sóskuthy M, & Majid, A. (2021). Consistent verbal labels promote odor category learning. Cognition, 206.10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104485
  • Tang, M., Vanek, N., & Roberts, L. (2020). Crosslinguistic influence on English and Chinese L2 speakers’ conceptualization of event series. International Journal of Bilingualism, OnlineFirst10.1177/1367006920947174
  • Vanek, N., & Mertins, B. (2020). Defying chronology: Crosslinguistic variation in reverse order reports. LINGUISTICS, 58 (2), 569-603. 10.1515/ling-2019-0006
  • Vanek, N. (2019). Changing Event Categorization in Second Language Users Through Perceptual Learning. LANGUAGE LEARNING, 70 (2), 309-348. 10.1111/lang.12377
  • Zhu, X., & Vanek, N. (2017). Facilitative effects of learner-directed codeswitching: evidence from Chinese learners of English. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 20 (7), 773-787. 10.1080/13670050.2015.1087962
  • Vanek, N., & Selinker, L. (2017). Covariation between temporal interlanguage features and nonverbal event categorisation. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching. 10.1515/iral-2017-0106
  • VANEK, N. O. R. B. E. R. T., & HENDRIKS, H. (2015). Convergence of temporal reference frames in sequential bilinguals: event structuring unique to second language users. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 18 (04), 753-768. 10.1017/S1366728914000765
  • Vanek, N. (2012). Language-specific perspectives in reference to time in the discourse of Czech, English, and Hungarian speakers. In L. Filipovic, K. M. Jaszczolt (Eds.) (pp. 135-156). JOHN BENJAMINS B V PUBL.

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 1, Room 108
New Zealand