Centre for Languages and Literature

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University


I have always been curious about what distinguishes humans from animals. This has led me into research of human language and into the areas first language acquisition, second language acquisition, multilingualism and language impairments.

Some of the questions I have asked are: How do young children acquire their first language(s)? Are there any differences between monolingual and multilingual language development? What characterises language in children with Specific Language Impairment? When is the internal grammar ”fully developed”? How are languages acquired after the age of four? What is the importance of interaction with parents? Which role does the environment play? Is teaching important?

The questions all deal with the unique human language acquisition capacity. My aim is to get an understanding of what it means to be human by looking into the development a human language.


About the research

I collaborate with other reserachers in three EU-project, all aiming at comparing language acquisition in different contexts and with differemt target languages. In COST A33 (Cross-linguistically Robust Stages of Children’s Linguistic Performance the focus is on five-year-olds and how they acquire some linguistic structures in different languages. COST IS0804 (Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society, aims at finding characteristics of language impapirment in bilingual children in comparison to monolingual children, and in ELIAS (Early Language and Intercultural Acquisition Studies., we investigate early multilingualism and intercultural communication in preschools in Belgium, England, Germany and Sweden.


Books (15)
Editorships (8)
Articles (35)
Book chapters (48)
Encyclopaedia entries (3)
Conference contributions (19)
Reports (2)
Working papers (11)
Reviews (3)
Articles in specialist publications and popular press (7)
Supervision at Lund University (4)

Research portal (Lund University)


Other tasks and qualifications

Gisela Håkansson

Professor Emerita
General Linguistics
Centre for Languages and Literature

Contact information

E-mail gisela.hakanssonling.luse

Visiting address Helgonabacken 12, Lund

Postal address Box 201, 221 00 Lund

Internal post code 20