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Hui Sun

Dr Hui Sun


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 29208 75408
John Percival Building, Room 3.63, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a psycholinguist studying individual differences in second language acquisition. I have worked on multidisciplinary research projects where behavioural, physiological and neurological methods are used to investigate language perception, processing, comprehension and production, and how language acquisition is related to individuals' language learning experience/strategy, cognitive skills and sociopsychological status.










My research interest lies in cognitive and sociopsychological individual differences, second language acquisition (SLA), and speech perception and production. I’m an advocate of multi-dimensional approach which provides a holistic view of how learner-internal and learner-external factors work together to determine the rate and outcome of second language acquisition. My PhD project takes such an approach to show how L2 learning experience, language aptitude, L2 motivation and personality traits contribute to L2 speech learning during study abroad (Sun, Saito, & Dewaele, in press).

Research collaborations

with team Out Of Our Minds (link)

This is an interdisciplinary project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, involving a team of linguists, psychologists and computer scientists, investigating the learning of two most widely spoken languages in the UK: English and Polish. The project aims to develop new ways of describing what speakers know about their language to enhance foreign language teaching and learning in the classroom.

Our ongoing project has two objectives:

  1. To explore L1 speakers’ explicit attitude to and implicit perception of L2 speech (measured via subjective ratings, psychophysiological activities, eye movements), and how it is determined by the interaction between the performance of L2 speakers (e.g., accent, grammaticality) and the individual factors of L1 listeners (e.g., personality traits). This balanced approach relieve pressure on L2 speakers and emphasise the role of L1 listeners, especially in high-stakes evaluations.
  2. To explore L2 knowledge acquired through distinct learning experience (formal training in classrooms vs. naturalistic immersion vs. a mixture of both) via various online/offline processing measures (pupil dilation, eye movements, keystroke logging and other behavioural measures), and how it is determined by a range of learner variables (e.g., attention, working/declarative/procedural memory, phonological short term memory, music/language aptitude, imitating, learning strategy, motivation, personality, language use).

with team SLA Speech Tools (link)

A psycholinguistic project funded by ESRC: Effects of domain-general auditory processing ability on L2 speech learning in naturalistic settings (Saito et al., 2020; Sun et al., 2021)

  • Auditory processing has been seen as a foundation of first language acquisition. More recently, it has been found to explain the variance in short-term L2 training success. This project examines to what degree auditory processing ability is related to L2 speech learning in naturalistic settings among learners from different L1 backgrounds (Chinese, Polish, Spanish) and with various length of residence and age of arrival. Auditory processing ability (sound discrimination, music aptitude, frequency-following response) and L2 skills (speech perception/production, grammar, vocabulary) are measured via behavioural and EEG experiments.

A psycholinguistic project funded by the Leverhulme Trust: Effects of language experience on domain-general perceptual strategies (*Jasmin, K., *Sun, H., & Tierney, 2021)

  • Speech and music are highly redundant communication systems, with multiple acoustic cues signalling the existence of perceptual categories. Listeners tend to weight certain cues more than others during perceptual categorization. This project investigates to what degree listeners’ L1 (tonal vs. non-tonal) and length of L2 immersion influence their cue weighting in speech and music perception.


    Sun, H., Saito, K., & Dewaele, J.-M. (in press). Cognitive And Socio-psychological Individual Differences, Experience, And Naturalistic Second Language Speech Learning: A Longitudinal Study. Language Learning.

    Sun, H., Saito, K., & Tierney, A. (2021). A Longitudinal Investigation of Explicit and Implicit Auditory Processing in L2 Segmental and Suprasegmental Acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 43(3), 551-573.

    *Jasmin, K., *Sun, H., & Tierney, A. T. (2021). Effects of language experience on domain-general perceptual strategies. Cognition, 206, 104481. [*joint first authors]

    Saito, K., Kachlicka, M., Sun, H., & Tierney, A. (2020). Domain-general auditory processing as an anchor of post-pubertal second language pronunciation learning: Behavioural and neurophysiological investigations of perceptual acuity, age, experience, development, and attainment. Journal of Memory and Language, 115, 104168.

    Saito, K., Sun, H., Kachlicka, M., Alayo, J., Nakata, T., & Tierney, A. (2020). Domain-general auditory processing explains multiple dimensions of L2 acquisition in adulthood. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 44(1), 57-86.

    Saito, K., Sun, H., & Tierney, A. (2020). Domain-general auditory processing determines success in second language pronunciation learning in adulthood: A longitudinal study. Applied Psycholinguistics, 41(5), 1083-1112.


    I am currently teaching the following BA and MA modules.

    • SE1113 How Language Works 1 (Year 1)
    • SE1318 Research Methods (Year 2)
    • SE1422 First and Second Language Acquisition (Year 2)
    • SET030 Research Foundations in Language and Communication (MA)


    I did an MA in English Language and Literature at Beijing Institute of Technology, followed by an MA and a PhD in Applied Linguistics at Birkbeck, University of London. Then I worked on several post-doc research projects at Birkbeck and University of Birmingham, before I started at Cardiff University as a lecturer in 2021.


    I am interested in supervising PhD studies in the area of second language acquisition.