Associate Professor James Lee

Associate Professor (Spanish & Latin American Studies)


School of Humanities & Languages


9385 1189
226 Morven Brown
Fields: Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics, Language Studies, Linguistic Structures (incl. Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics)
Tags: Learner and Learning Processes, Teaching and Instruction

I am an Associate Professor in Spanish and Latin American Studies and Deputy Head of the School of Languages and Linguistics. I studied Romance and Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, where I received a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics. I previously taught at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and at Indiana University in Bloomington.

My research examines instructed second language acquisition, in general, and the connections between input processing and comprehension. Input processing refers to fact that the language to which learners are exposed contains linguistic forms. The task facing learners to connect a form and its meaning using the limited and incomplete second language resources at their disposal. Beginning with my 2004 chapter, published by Erlbaum, I have taken a great interest in a type of processing strategy training called Processing Instruction. The goal of the training is to have learners develop target-language appropriate processing strategies in order to help them make more and better connections between forms in the input and their meanings. The 2004 chapter is a critical assessment of the existing research. Importantly, based on my assessment I generated 11 hypotheses about the effects of Processing Instruction that have served to stimulate more research in the field. I have partnered with Alessandro Benati of the University of Greenwich and our research in this area has been extensive.

In our 2007 book, Delivering Processing Instruction in Virtual and Classroom Contexts, we established that Processing Instruction can be delivered equally well in classrooms to groups of learners and in language laboratories to individuals. My work on this book earned me the 2008 FASS Dean’s Award for Best Publication on the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching. Also in 2007, we published Second Language Processing, in which we established that input enhancement techniques do not increase the number of form-meaning connections learners make from processing strategy training.

Our 2008 book, Grammar Acquisition and Processing Instruction, added significantly to the theoretical model underpinning this research area. That is, we established that learners transfer their strategy training across different linguistic structures. Whereas I could effectively review the existing research in a chapter in 2004, Benati and I reviewed the field in a book in 2009, Research and Perspectives on Processing Instruction. Our most recent collaboration is Processing Instruction and Discourse. The theoretical model underpinning Processing Instruction is a model of sentence processing and strategy training proceeds at the sentence level. Our research examined the effects of processing instruction using discourse-level assessments. We found that learners consistently could utilize sentence-level training in interpreting and producing connected discourse.

I also have an ongoing interest in the second language acquisition of object pronouns in Spanish. Object pronouns in Spanish occur in preverbal position with finite verbs. And, given the extent of Spanish verb morphology, the subject of the verb may not be realized on the surface or can occur in postverbal position. A well-established principle of input processing is that learners tend to assign agent status to the first noun or pronoun they encounter in an utterance. Even though object pronouns are case-marked in Spanish, learners consistently misassign the status of the pronoun.

My 2003 chapter is a critical examination of the research on the acquisition of object pronouns by second language learners of Spanish. Subsequently I began working with Paul Malovrh of the University of South Carolina. In our 2009 chapter we manipulated variables such as context, person, gender and number across various levels of learners as they processed sentences with object pronouns. We established that the correct processing of object pronouns begins with person, first then second and finally, after a protracted stage of development, third person. We expanded our scope to include comparisons of processing and production in our 2010 chapter. We are currently preparing a book on processing and producing object pronouns for Mouton de Gruyter.



    • Lee JF; Benati AG, (eds.), 2013, Individual Differences and Processing Instruction, 1st, Equinox, London
    • Malovrh P;Lee JF, 2013, The Developmental Dimension in Instructed Second Language Learning: The L2 Acquisition of Object Pronouns in Spanish, Original, Bloomsbury, London,
    • Benati AG;Lee JF, 2010, Processing Instruction and Discourse, 1, Continuum, London
    • Lee JF;Benati AG, 2009, Research and perspectives on processing instruction
    • Benati AG;Lee JF, 2008, Grammar acquisition and processing instruction: Secondary and cumulative effects
    • Lee JF;Benati AG, 2007, Second Language Processing, Original, Continuum Publishing Co, London
    • Lee JF;Benati AG, 2007, Delivering Processing Instruction in Classrooms and in Virtual Contexts, Original, Equinox Publishing, London
    • Lee JF;VanPatten B, 2003, Making Communicative Language Teaching Happen, 2nd, McGraw-Hill, New York USA

    Book Chapters

    • Lee J;Doherty S, 2019, 'The effects of implicit positive and negative feedback on processing subsequent linguistic target items: An eye-tracking study', in Leow R (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Research in Classroom Learning, Routledge
    • Lee JF, 2018, 'Comprehensible Input', in The TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching, 8 Volume Set, John Wiley & Sons,
    • Lee JF;Armour WS, 2016, 'Factors influencing non-native readers' sequencing of Japanese manga panels', in Pasfiled-Neofitou S; Sell C (ed.), Manga Vision: Cultural and Communicative Perspectives, Monash University Publishing, pp. 178 - 193
    • Lee JF, 2014, 'The relationship between learning rate and learning outcome for processing instruction on the Spanish passive', in Benati A; Arche M; Laval C (ed.), The Grammar Dimension in Instructed Second Language Learning, edn. Advances in Instructed Second Language Acquisition Research, Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 147 - 163,
    • Lee JF, 2014, 'Processing instruction: Where research meets practice', in Benati A; Arche M; Laval C (ed.), The Grammar Dimension in Instructed Second Language Learning, edn. 1st, Bloomsbury Academic, London, pp. 58 - 81,
    • Lee JF, 2013, 'Individual differences and processing instruction', in Lee JF; Benati AG (ed.), Individual Differences and Processing Instruction, edn. 1st, Equinox, London, pp. 211 - 228,
    • Lee JF, 2013, 'Foci and general findings of research on processing instruction: moving beyond limitations', in Lee JF; Benati AG (ed.), Individual Differences and Processing Instruction, edn. 1st, Equinox, London, pp. 19 - 46,
    • Lee JF, 2013, 'Ideas for the practice of instructed SLA and their rationale: a summary and commentary', in Innovative Research and Practices in Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism, edn. 1st, John Benjamins, Philadelphia, pp. 311 - 328,
    • Lee JF;McNulty EM, 2013, 'The effects of language background on the results of processing instruction on the Spanish subjunctive/indicative contrast after the adverb cuando.', in Lee JF; Benati AG (ed.), Individual Differences and Processing Instruction, edn. 1st, Equinox, London, pp. 49 - 81,
    • Malovrh P;Lee JF, 2010, 'Connections between processing, production and placement: Acquiring object pronouns in Spanish as a second language', in VanPatten B; Jegerski J (ed.), Research in second language processing and parsing, edn. 1, John Benjamins, Philadelphia, pp. 231 - 255
    • Benati AG;Lee JF;Laval C, 2009, 'Secondary and cumulative effects in attaining L2 proficiency in the classroom: The acquisition of French', in Benati AG (ed.), Issues in Second Language Proficiency, edn. 1st, Continuum, London UK, pp. 189 - 201
    • Lee JF, 2004, 'On the generalizability, limits and potential future directions for Processing Instruction research', in VanPatten B (ed.), Processing Instruction: Theory, Research, and Commentary, edn. 1st, Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ USA, pp. 311 - 323
    • Lee JF, 2003, 'Cognitive and linguistic perspectives on the acquisition of object pronouns in Spanish as a second language', in Lafford B; Salaberry R (ed.), Spanish Second Language Acquisition: The State of the Science, edn. 1st, Georgetown University Press, Washington DC, USA, pp. 98 - 129

    Journal articles

    • Lee JF, 2019, 'The second language processing of passives, object pronouns and null subjects: Processing instruction compared to language experience', Hispania, vol. 102, pp. 91 - 100,
    • Lee J;Doherty S, 2018, 'Native and nonnative processing of active and passive sentence: The effects of processing instruction on the allocation of visual attention', Studies in Second Language Acquisition,
    • Lee JF, 2017, 'Word order and linguistic factors in the second language processing of Spanish passive sentences', Hispania, vol. 100, pp. 580 - 595,
    • Lee JF, 2015, 'Processing instruction on the Spanish passive with transfer-of-training effects to anaphoric and cataphoric reference contexts', IRAL: International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, vol. 53, pp. 203 - 223,
    • Lee JF, 2015, 'The milestones in twenty years of processing instruction research', IRAL: International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, vol. 53, pp. 111 - 126,
    • Benati A;Lee JF, 2015, 'Introduction to the special issue', IRAL - International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, vol. 53, pp. 87 - 90,
    • Lee JF;Benati AG, 2015, 'Introduction to the Special Issue', IRAL: International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, vol. 53, pp. 87 - 90

    Conference Papers

    • Lee JF;Malovrh P, 2009, 'Linguistic and non-linguistic factors affecting OVS processing of accusative and dative case pronouns by advanced L2 learners of Spanish', in Selected Proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, Cascadilla Press, San Antonio TX USA, presented at 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, San Antonio TX USA, 01 November 2007

    Conference Presentations

    • Lee J;Doherty S, 2016, 'Processing Instruction on the Spanish passive: An eye tracking study', presented at Pacific Second Language Research Forum, Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan, 08 - 10 September 2016
    • Lee J;Doherty S, 2016, 'Second language input processing', presented at HAL Research Forum, 14 - 14 June 2016

Teaching and Supervision

Courses in second language acquisition

Advanced Undergraduate:
Courses in various areas of Hispanic Linguistics, focusing on Spanish as a world language, from the emergence of Spanish on the Iberian peninsula to its spread around the globe as well as the politics of language across the Spanish-speaking world

Beginning and Intermediate Undergraduate:
Spanish language courses

Other information

Co-editor: McGraw-Hill Second Language Professional Series
Editorial Board: Bloomsbury Series, Advances in Second Language Acquisition Research