How do children acquire their native language(s) and the phonetics/phonology interface?

Website Speech Lab

Titia Benders invites you to collaboratively investigate how children between 6 months and 6 years (and sometimes older) acquire the sound structure of their native languages. You can become involved in one or more ongoing projects, including: the properties of infant-directed speech and its role in interactions and acquisition; the acquisition of Basaa (in collaboration with colleagues in Cameroon); the acquisition of Arabic (in collaboration with colleagues in Saudi-Arabia); and the acquisition of weak syllables in Germanic languages (in collaboration with colleagues in Germany and Australia). An integral part of these internships is that you become a colleague of all working in the SpeechLab and associated research groups, sharing challenges, successes, and insights.

Project/internship tasks:

  • Projects typically include several steps of the research process: a literature review, design of a study, preparation of speech stimuli, implementation of the experimental procedure,  testing participants online or in the lab, coding data [this can be a big chunk of the work!], analyzing data, writing up and interpreting results.
  • Students would also attend relevant seminars and participate in activities of the Speech Lab, the LabLinguistics research group, and/or the BiPhon research group.
  • The exact tasks will depend on the size and timeframe of the internship as well as the interests of the student.

Time investment and time frame:

  • Projects can be hosted for 6 EC (168 hours) or 12 EC (336 hours) or 18 EC (504 hours), and can be done across a time frame of 8 weeks, 16 weeks, a full semester, or even a full year. The size and time frame  organization is decided in consultation between the student and supervisor.
  • The time investment per week can range from 42 hours per week (12 EC in 8 weeks) to 8.4 hours per week (6EC in a semester or 12 EC in a full academic year).
  • The start date can be flexible and will be decided in consultation.


  • Several tasks must be done in the Speech Lab, such as: recording stimuli, preparing experimental procedures, testing participants in the lab, handling any sensitive data (including any recorded speech data). Students will be provided with a workspace for these tasks.
  • Other project tasks can be done at any location, including: reading literature, writing, designing experiments, handling non-sensitive data.

Other organizational issues:

  • Students form a team with the supervisor and may be paired with other students for close collaboration on some or all tasks.
  • They are also expected to work collegially with the lab manager, the lab technician, and members of the research groups, as applicable.
  • The project team (student(s), supervisor, and others directly involved) will typically meet once every two weeks, to discuss progress, issues, and next steps, and learn from each other along the way.

You are a good match to this internship if:

  • You have completed an undergraduate program in Linguistics, a language, or have specialized in language-related classes in another undergraduate degree, or are currently specializing in language.
  • You particularly enjoyed and did well in courses on phonetics (of spoken languages), or have other background and training in phonetics.
  • You are interested in child language acquisition and in linguistic diversity.
  • If you want to work with participants in the lab, (some) proficiency in Dutch is required. The younger the participants, the more proficiency may be required.

Internship supervisor:

Titia Benders,

How to reach out?

Interested students are asked to send and email to Titia Benders outlining 1) how they are a good match to this internship (including the 3 points outlined above) and 2) what they would like to learn and contribute during this internships. The supervisor will assess emails on a rolling basis and may invite applicants for a conversation to see if there is a match.

To apply for this job please visit