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Personal profile


I am a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese and I did my PhD at the University of Arizona, USA, under the mentorship of Professor Ken Forster. Before joining Macquarie University, I held academic positions in Singapore and the UK. 

 Broadly defined, my research interests are in Language and Cognition. In particular, I am interested in the cognitive and neural aspects of Second Language Processing and Representations and how L2 processes imply about second/foreign language learning/teaching. I primarily use experimental paradigms (i.e., eye-trackers, ERPs, reaction times tools, etc.) to empirically investigate issues. I welcome Higher Degree Research students who want to use experimental techniques to work on related research topics to come to talk/write to me.  

Research interests

Bilingual Word Recognition

Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics


Second Language Acquisition and Teaching


I teach/convene 3-4 courses: 

LING2214. Introduction to Psycholinguistics

LING3386. Bilingualism/Multilingualism

LING1121 Language Myths and Realities

SPHL3390 Language as Evidence

Research student supervision

Research Student Supervision: I am accepting PhD applications and the following is a brief overview of my research.

My contribution to the field of Second Language Processes and Bilingualism is primarily reflected on my work that adopts online measures to understand the underlying cognitive mechanism and architecture of second language processes through various experimental paradigms. These empirical findings inform about the linguistic and cognitive consequences of learning a second/foreign language. In particular, my work has led to advancements of understanding how language-specific properties contribute to the linguistic/cognitive system of a bilingual person. 

Cross-language activation (Bilingual Lexical Processing, Bilingual Word Recognition)

My earlier work in Masked Translation Priming has advanced our understanding of the bilingual lexicon – an integrated system at the semantic level while lexical access can be achieved through independent orthographic systems for cross-script readers (e.g., Chinese-English bilinguals). This work has advanced bilingual lexical models showing language-specific senses/meanings contribute to different priming patterns in different tasks (lexical decision vs. semantic categorization) and supports bilingual theories that specify language-specific mechanisms in bilingual language processing (Wang & Forster, 2010Wang & Forster, 2015). In addition, my work has demonstrated how language proficiency and language dominance contribute to different priming patterns and thus their roles in bilingual lexical models (Wang, 2013). 

Lexical tone in cross-language activation (Bilingual Lexical Processing, Bilingual Word Recognition)

My recent work in bilingual speech has demonstrated two processing mechanisms that specify the necessity of lexical tones in cross-language activation. Chinese-English bilinguals provide a unique opportunity to understand the interaction between a tonal language (e.g., Mandarin Chinese) and non-tonal language (e.g., English) at the linguistic/cognitive level. One cross-language processing mechanism requires implicit activation of lexical tonal representations in a top-down/lateral manner, shown in the Visual World Paradigm (Wang et al., 2017). This activation is positively associated with language proficiency. The other cross-language processing mechanism is driven by the phonological overlap between languages, but cross-language activation in Chinese-English bilinguals still requires the availability of lexical tones (Wang, et al., 2020). These novel findings have not only advanced our understanding of the role of supra-segmental information in the bilingual context, but further support the theory that lexical tones are equally important as segments in language processing, a traditional debate that attracts many psycholinguists. 

Cross-language influence during bilingual language production

A unique property of a bilingual is the ability to switch between two languages. My previous work has also investigated how bilinguals inhibited one language for the output of the target language (Wang et al., 2013Wang, 2015). In particular, with my collaborators, we designed an innovative switching paradigm where two bilinguals are present for the same picture stimuli but in different roles during the Picture Naming task (speaker vs. listener). We found that the language control mechanism (i.e., the ability to switch between languages involves cognitive control) during production (maybe comprehension) can be associated with various factors (Zhang, Wang et al, 2019; Tong, Kong, Wang, et al, 2019; Liu, Li, Wang et al, in press). Language-specific properties can be one of those. 

Community engagement

To respond to COVID-19, I am co-organizing an online Psycholinguistics Research Forum by inviting psycholinguists to give talks and tutorials to engage research in the region of Asia and Asia Pacific. If you want to know more about this, please get in touch and/or click on the link above for more information. Have FUN! 

Research engagement

I, as the lead CI, am currently working on 2 research projects related to Mandarin tones 

1) Setting the tone: learning a tonal language (HK Mobility Grant, 2019-2020)

Lexical tones are a prevalent phonetic cue in human languages, but learning these tones can be very challenging for second/foreign language learners, both in terms of listening and speaking. This project investigates how cross-modal learning and high talker variability can lead to effective learning of lexical tones as well as their association to lexical meanings. 


2) Beyong the segments: towards a lexical model for tonal bilinguals (ARC DP project 2021-2023, PI: Bob McMurray @ University of Iowa)

This project aims to understand how healthy adult bilinguals resolve competition from their unintended language to communicate successfully in the intended language. In both bilingual language comprehension and production, the project will characterise the role of an under-explored linguistic dimension, lexical tone, in cross-language processing. Expected outcomes include enhanced understanding of bilingual communication and theories of bilingual language use, and practical implications for optimal language learning for bilinguals and intervention for clinical populations who speaks two languages.

Education/Academic qualification

English, BA, Beijing Language and Culture University

Psycholinguistics, PhD, The University of Arizona

Applied Linguistics, MA, The University of Arizona


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