PhD Student

Last application date
Jul 10, 2023 00:00
LW06 - Department of Linguistics
Limited duration
MA degree in Linguistics or in a related discipline (English Studies, Psycholinguistics, Applied Linguistics). The degree requirements need to be met by the start of the appointment.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

We welcome applications for a full-time position as doctoral researcher in the Department of Linguistics at Ghent University. The PhD student will be working on the project ‘Understanding accents: the intelligibility of regional and non-native accents to English as a Foreign Language learners’, funded by the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO). The starting date is preferably 1st October 2023, but is subject to negotiation. The project runs over a period of 4 years.

Project description
Listening to a language which is not one’s own native language can be surprisingly difficult, even for advanced learners. This is especially so when the speaker has an unfamiliar regional or non-native accent. While listeners can easily deal with variation in their native language, coping with accent variation in a non-native language is more difficult. In the case of English, with its millions of native and non-native speakers, language learners need to be able to understand a wide variety of accents in English. The aim of the project is to examine to what extent English as a Foreign Language learners experience difficulties when listening to regional and non-native accented speech, which aspects especially hamper intelligibility and how we can train learners on the perception of accented speech in English. To that end, you will run listening experiments which will inform us on the perception of phonological variation by non-native listeners, and set up training sessions to enhance learners’ ability to understand accented speech. Through the project, you will gain a deeper understanding of what causes intelligibility problems and how these can be remedied through training.

Research questions
The main research questions are the following:
(1) To what extent do EFL learners experience difficulties when listening to regional and non-native accented speech?
(2) How do EFL learners accommodate to regionally accented and non-native accented vowel pronunciations in terms of their phonological system?
(3) How can we enhance advanced EFL learners’ multidialectal listening skills through training and exposure to authentic speech materials?


  • You prepare and defend a PhD on the intelligibility of regional and non-native accents within four years.
  • You provide innovative insights and perspectives to the research project.
  • You collect and analyse (experimental) data within the context of the research
  • You report the results of your studies in national and international scientific journals.
  • You present your results at national and international conferences.
  • You primarily devote your time to research within the project, but are also willing to play a minor role in teaching activities and administration in the English Section.

Our offer

  • We offer you a full-time PhD scholarship for four years at Ghent University.
  • You will be working under the supervision of Prof. Ellen Simon and dr. Bastien De Clercq.
  • You will be working in the research group MULTIPLES (Research Centre for Multilingual Practices and Language Learning in Society).
  • Working conditions involve flexible working hours, attention to work-life balance, open communication and the possibility to partly work remotely. For more information on working conditions, benefits and career opportunities as a PhD fellow at Ghent University, please visit

Job profile

  • You hold a MA degree in Linguistics or in a related discipline (such as English studies, Psycholinguistics, Applied Linguistics) or are expected to obtain this degree by the start of the project. Holding a degree in English linguistics is an asset.
  • Your academic performance is excellent, as demonstrated by your study results (grades), Ma thesis and/or publications.
  • As the project is situated in the fields of phonetics and phonology, prior experience and/or a strong interest in these areas (including phonological theory, second language phonology, acoustic analysis, sociophonetics) are crucial.
  • You have strong analytical skills. Knowledge of and/or experience with statistical analysis is an asset. Candidates should be willing to get statistical training as part of their development.
  • You have an excellent command of spoken and written English and either have an advanced degree in English or can demonstrate a C2 level of proficiency through a standardised test score (e.g. IELTS, TOEFL).
  • You have a strong interest in the English language and in language variation.
  • You are able to work independently and plan your work efficiently both in the short and long term. However, you also like working in close collaboration with colleagues.
  • You possess strong communication skills and proactively approach tasks and responsibilities
  • You are expected to work on campus, with some remote work allowed.

How to apply

To apply for this position, please send your application file (a single pdf) to and
Your file should include:
1) a motivation letter explaining why you are interested in the position and why you think you are a suitable candidate
2) your CV
3) a project proposal, no longer than 750 words, in which you describe how you would approach the project’s main research questions as formulated above, with special reference to methodology
4) a copy of your diploma (including a transcript of records of the MA degree)
5) a certificate of a standardised English proficiency test (e.g. IELTS, TOEFL), unless you hold an advanced degree in English
6) a copy of a paper you wrote in the context of your studies which demonstrates your research experience and skills (e.g. thesis)

You can apply for this job no later than July 10, 2023.
Interviews with shortlisted candidates (in person or online) will be scheduled in the second half of August 2023. A final decision will be communicated by mid-September 2023.
For more information please contact Prof. Ellen Simon ( and dr. Bastien De Clercq (