top of page

Prof. Dr. Simone Pfenninger

University of Zurich

Full Professor for English Linguistics

Simone Pfenninger

Research Interests

My principal research areas are multilingualism, psycholinguistics and individual learner differences in SLA, especially in regard to quantitative approaches and statistical methods and techniques for language application in education. My research sheds light on the effectiveness of early vs. late foreign language instruction, the difference between cognitive decline (as a function of ageing) vs. the cumulative experience of learning, bilingual education in school contexts (with a focus on time and timing and intra-learner variability), language learners with specific learning differences (e.g. dyslexics), as well the question of how good older adults are at additional language learning - and how language learning benefits them.

Academic Career

I am a Professor of English Linguistics in the English Department of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Before coming to Zurich, in August 2022, I was an Associate Professor of Second Language Acquisition and Psycholinguistics at the University of Salzburg, Austria. I received my PhD in English historical linguistics in 2009 (supervised by Prof. A. Fischer, University of Zurich, and Prof. O. Fischer, University of Amsterdam) and obtained my habilitation in 2016 (also from the University of Zurich) in the area of SLA.

I edit the Second Language Acquisition book series published by Multilingual Matters, and serve as President of the International Association of Multilingualism IAM ( and as Vice President of the European Second Language Association EuroSLA (

Academic Degrees and Awards

  • "Best Teacher Award 2022" (ÖH), University of Salzburg

  • Excellence in Teaching Award 2022, University of Salzburg

  • Roger W. Shuy Best Paper of 2021 prize, American Speech

  • The Modern Language Journal Research Article Award 2020

  • Top Cited Article 2020-2021 in the Modern Language Journal

  • Top Downloaded Article 2020 in the International Journal of Applied Linguistics

  • Best Article Prize 2018, The Journal of EuroSLA (JESLA)

  • Conrad Ferdinand Meyer Prize 2018 for outstanding research

  • Mercator Award 2015, which recognizes the outstanding scientific achievements of young researchers engaged in research projects of societal relevance and applying inter- or transdisciplinary approaches and methods.

  • Nomination for the "Excellence in Teaching Award" 2017, University of Salzburg

  • ​Nomination for the “Credit Suisse Award for Best Teaching 2013”, University of Zurich

For more information, please visit

bottom of page