Prof Cécile De Cat

Prof Cécile De Cat


My undergraduate degree was a Licence en Philologie Romane at the Belgian UCL (Louvain-la-Neuve).  After coming to the UK as a French assistant in a Durham school (thanks to a European exchange programme), I got an MA in Linguistics from the University of Durham, and then worked as a research assistant on a language acquisition project at the University of York.  I moved on to do a PhD in language acquisition (funded by the ESRC) at the University of York.  After an ESRC-funded post-doc also at  the University of York, I was appointed to the University of Leeds as a lecturer.  I have been Professor of Linguistics since 2015.


  • Language@Leeds director
  • Research director for Linguistics & Phonetics

Research interests

Please see Cecile's personal website for research interests, projects and publications.  

My research focuses on the interplay between language and cognition, and revolves around the following questions/themes:

  • the relationship between bilingual language experience and language proficiency 
  • the relationship between discourse competence and cognition (executive functions, theory of mind, perceptual biases)
  • representational deficits vs. processing limitations in a second language
  • concept combination in noun-noun compounds
  • information structure and its encoding (e.g. topic, focus, root properties)
  • I have a keen interest in modelling (using mixed-effect models and GAMMs) and in data visualisation using R. Related topics include:
    • quantifying bilingual experience and
    • evaluating critical thresholds objectively.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • Associate editor for the Journal of Child Language
  • Editorial board member for the Studies in Bilingualism (SiBil) series (Benjamins)
  • Member of Flanders' Research Foundation (FWO) expert panel Cult 1: Languages
  • Council member of the Philological Society 
  • Member of the LAGB
  • Member of the IASCL

Student education

I normally teach modules in language acquisition and formal linguistics, and supervise UG and MA dissertations. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Language acquisition
  • Language pedagogy
  • Language processing
  • Linguistics and Phonetics
  • Linguistics and Phonetics
  • Formal Linguistics
  • Multilingualism
  • Language at Leeds
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>