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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Esther de Leeuw, PhD (QMU)


Reader in Experimental Linguistics and Phonetics

Telephone: +44 (0)207 882 5911
Room Number: ArtsOne 1.09
Office Hours: On MS Team (see QMPlus), or by appointment


Key interests

Multilingualism, bilingualism, L1 attrition, L2 acquisition, executive control, phonetics, phonology, sociophonetics, prosody.

Please see my ResearchGate profile.

Current and previous affiliations

From April - September 2014, I was based at the Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing (director, Professor Jonathan Harrington) in Munich, Germany, where I was supported through a Humboldt Fellowship. From January - March 2014, I spent a portion of my research leave at the Cognitive Development Lab of York University, Canada (director, Professor Ellen Bialystok). Before arriving at Queen Mary, University of London in September 2010, I worked at the BBC Pronunciation Unit. Beforehand, I completed my PhD at the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and my Magistra Artium at the Department of Phonetics, University of Trier, Germany. During and briefly after my PhD, I was affiliated with the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol; and the Centre for Research on Bilingualism at Bangor University.  I have also studied at Northwest Community College in Terrace, British Columbia, and the University of Utrecht, Netherlands.

In line with my research interests, I am also Associate Editor for the journal Second Language Research.


Below is a selection of some of the modules which I have taught or am currently teaching.

LIN7002 Dissertation Seminar, MA module, since 2016

LIN7014 Research Practicum, MA module, since 2015

LIN6034 Multilingualism and Bilingualism, BA module with teaching assistant, since 2015

LIN7034 Multilingualism and Bilingualism, MA module, since 2015

LIN5200 Acoustic Analysis of Speech, BA module, since 2015

LIN7010 Sociophonetics, MA module, since 2012

LIN400 Foundations of Linguistics; BA module, two classes taught on phonetics and phonology, since 2010

LIN502 Describing and Measuring Prosody, BA module, 2010–2015 

LIN502 Sociolinguistic Variation and Change, BA module, 2010-2011


Research Interests:

My main research objective is to explore social, cognitive, linguistic, and personal factors which influence the speech of people who speak more than one language. I aim to explore what affects the processes of acquisition and attrition across the lifespan within the domains of phonetics and phonology, and how multilingualism and bilingualism influence other cognitive domains such as executive control. In addition to teaching and research responsibilities, I am Director of the QMUL Phonetics Laboratory, the main lab used to conduct all sociophonetic experimental research at QMUL, and also Co-Founder of Multilingual Capital.


Current PhD students

Scott Kunkel


Former PhD students

Miriam Tenderini

Elisa Passoni

Scott Lewis

Karen Beaman

I welcome PhD and MA applications aligned with my research interests.



Peer-reviewed journal publications

Dmitrieva, O., Celata, C., de Leeuw, E., & Kartushina, N. (in preparation, invited contribution to special issue). Native speech perception in the context of multilingualism and language learning. Languages.

Passoni, E., & de Leeuw, E. (in preparation, invited contribution to special issue). Changing gender perceptions in late Japanese-English bilinguals. Languages.

Passoni, E., de Leeuw, E., & Levon, E. (online first view). Bilinguals produce pitch range differently in their two languages to convey social meaning. Language and Speech.

Tenderini, M., de Leeuw, E., Eilola, T., & Pearce, M. (2022). Reduced cross-modal affective priming in the L2 of late bilinguals depends on L2 exposure. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 48(2), 284-2303.

McCarthy, K., & de Leeuw, E. (2022). Prosodic patterns in Sylheti-English bilinguals. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 44(2), 562-579.

Oxbury, R., & de Leeuw, E. (2020). Style-shifting in Multicultural London English in an all-girls homework club: A group of 11-year-old girls in Hackney change their pronunciations of the innovative Multicultural London English diphthongs according to the speech context. English Today, 36(3), 59-69.

de Leeuw, E., Stockall, L., Lazaridou-Chatzigoga, D., & Masip, C. (2019). Illusory vowels in Spanish-English late bilinguals: Evidence that accurate L2 perception is neither necessary nor sufficient for accurate L2 production. Second Language Research, 37(4), 587-618.

de Leeuw, E., & Celata, C. (2019). Plasticity of native phonetic and phonological domains in the context of bilingualism. Journal of Phonetics, 75, 88-93.

de Leeuw, E. (2019). Native speech plasticity in the German-English late bilingual Stefanie Graf: A longitudinal study over four decades. Journal of Phonetics, 73, 24-39.

de Leeuw, E. (2018). How phonetics and phonology inform L1 attrition (narrowly defined) research. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 725-729.

de Leeuw, E. & Tusha, A., & Schmid, M. S. (2018). Individual Phonological Attrition in Albanian-English Late Bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(2), 278-295.

de Leeuw, E. & Bogulski, C. (2016). L2 Language Use as a Predictor of Executive Control in Bilinguals and Multilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 19, 907-913.

Mennen, I., & de Leeuw, E. (2014). Beyond Segments: Prosody in Second Language Acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 36, 183-194.

de Leeuw, E., Opitz, C., & Lubińska, D. (2013). The Dynamics of First Language Attrition across the Lifespan. International Journal of Bilingualism, 17(6), 667-674.

de Leeuw, E., Mennen, I., & Scobbie, J. (2013). Dynamic Systems, Maturational Constraints, and Phonetic Attrition. International Journal of Bilingualism, 17(6), 683-700.

de Leeuw, E., Mennen, I., & Scobbie, J. (2012). Singing a different tune in your native language: L1 attrition of prosody. International Journal of Bilingualism, 16(1), 101-116.

de Leeuw, E., Schmid, M., & Mennen, I. (2010). The effects of contact on native language pronunciation in an L2 migrant context. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 13, 33-40.

Mennen, I., Scobbie, J., de Leeuw, E., Schaeffler, S., & Schaeffler, F. (2009). Measuring language specific phonetic settings. Second Language Research, 25(4), 435-464.

de Leeuw, E. (2007). Hesitation markers in English, German and Dutch. Journal of Germanic Linguistics, 1, 85-114.


Peer-reviewed book chapters

de Leeuw, E., & Chang, C. (in preparation, invited contribution). Phonetic and phonological L1 attrition and drift in bilingual speech. In M. Emanguel (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Bilingual Phonetics and Phonology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

de Leeuw, E. (2020). The Frequency Code and gendered attrition and acquisition in the German – English heritage language community in Vancouver, Canada. In B. Brehmer & J. Treffers-Daller, (Eds.), Lost in Transmission: The role of attrition and input in heritage language development. Studies in Bilingualism Series (pp. 229-254). London, UK: John Benjamins Publishing.

Schmid, M. S. & de Leeuw. E. (2019). Introduction to linguistic factors in language attrition. In M.S. Schmid and B. Köpke with M. Cherciov, M. Keijzer, E. de Leeuw, T. Karayayla, & T. Mehotcheva (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Language Attrition (pp. 181-190). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

de Leeuw, E. (2019). Phonetic Attrition. In M. S. Schmid & B. Köpke with M. Cherciov, M. Keijzer, E. de Leeuw, T. Karayayla, & T. Mehotcheva (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Language Attrition (pp. 204-217). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

de Leeuw, E., Tusha, A., Zhao, H. Helke, K., & Greenfield, A. (2018). A case of extreme phonetic attrition in the German rhotic. In C. Wright, T. Piske, & M. Young-Scholten (Eds.), Mind matters in SLA. (pp. 162–182). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

de Leeuw, E. (2014).  Maturational constraints in bilingual speech. In E. Thomas & I. Mennen (Eds.), Advances in the Study of Bilingualism (pp. 25-37). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.


Edited books and special issues

Dmitrieva, O., Celata, C., de Leeuw, E., & Kartushina, N. (Eds.) (forthcoming). Native Speech Perception in the Context of Multilingualism and Language Learning. Special issue of Languages.

de Leeuw, E., & Celata, C. (Eds.) (2019). Plasticity of Native Phonetic and Phonological Domains in the Context of Bilingualism. Special issue of the Journal of Phonetics.

Schmid, M. S., Köpke, B. with section editors Cherciov, M., de Leeuw, E., Karayayla, T., Keijzer, M. & Mehotcheva, T. (Eds.) (in press). Handbook of Language Attrition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mennen, I., & de Leeuw, E. (Eds.) (2014). Beyond Segments: Prosody in Second Language Acquisition. Special issue of Studies in Second Language Acquisition.

Opitz, C., de Leeuw, E., & Lubińska, D. (Eds.) (2013). The Dynamics of First Language Attrition across the Lifespan. Special issue of the International Journal of Bilingualism.


Peer-reviewed international conference proceedings

Lewis, S., Mehrabi, A., & de Leeuw, E. (2019). An articulatory-acoustic investigation into GOOSE-fronting in German-English bilinguals residing in London, UK. In Proceedings of the 20th Interspeech Conference (pp. 3544-3548). Graz, Austria.

Passoni, E., de Leeuw, E., Levon, E. (2019). Two languages, two pitch ranges: The case of Japanese-English sequential bilinguals. In Sasha Calhoun, Paola Escudero, Marija Tabain & Paul Warren (eds.) Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, pp. 1650-1654. Melbourne, Australia.

Passoni, E., Mehrabi, A., & Levon, E., de Leeuw, E.  (2018). Bilingualism, pitch range and social factors: preliminary results from sequential Japanese-English bilinguals. In 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody (pp. 384–388). Poznań, Poland.

de Leeuw, E., Bogulski, C. (2015). L2 Pronunciation Proficiency, Language Use and Age of L2 Acquisition as Predictors of Executive Control in Bilinguals. In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences.

de Leeuw, E., Schmid, M., & Mennen, I. (2007). Global Foreign Accent in Native German Speech. In J. Trouvain and W. Barry (eds.) Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, 1605–1608.


PhD thesis

de Leeuw, E. (2009). When your native language sounds foreign: A phonetic investigation into first language attrition. PhD thesis, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Supervisors: Professor Ineke Mennen and Professor James Scobbie.


Other publications

de Leeuw, E. (2020). Kristin Denham, Northwest voices: Language and culture in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2019. Pp. 192. Hb. £55. Language in Society, 49(3), 480-481.

Shockey, L. & de Leeuw, E. (2010). How to Say: World Cup 2010 tongue-twisters. BBC Magazine Monitor. June 2010.

de Leeuw, E. (2010). How to Say: Van Gogh. BBC Magazine Monitor. January 2010.

Schmid, M. & de Leeuw, E. (2008). Language attrition research network. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(18), 117–117.

Bormans, L., and de Leeuw, E. (2006). The BAAP 2006 Colloquium, 10-12 April 2006, Edinburgh (UK). The Phonetician, 93/94, 47-49.


Public Engagement

Multilingual Capital

With Devyani Sharma, I am co-director of Multilingual Capital: A Resource for London Communities. We aim to engage with all groups impacted by multilingualism – parents, children, support services, schools, the general public – and to share and develop insights about multilingualism.

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