Circadian rhythms and second language performance

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Kees de Bot
Fang Fang


Human behavior is not constant over the hours of the day, and there are considerable individual differences. Some people raise early and go to bed early and have their peek performance early in the day (“larks”) while others tend to go to bed late and get up late and have their best performance later in the day (“owls”). In this contribution we report on three projects on the role of chronotype (CT) in language processing and learning. The first study (de Bot, 2013) reports on the impact of CT on language learning aptitude and word learning. The second project was reported in Fang (2015) and looks at CT and executive functions, in particular inhibition as measured by variants of the Stroop test. The third project aimed at assessing lexical access in L1 and L2 at preferred and non-preferred times of the day. The data suggest that there are effects of CT on language learning and processing. There is a small effect of CT on language aptitude and a stronger effect of CT on lexical access in the first and second language. The lack of significance for other tasks is mainly caused by the large interindividual and intraindividual variation.


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How to Cite
de Bot, K., & Fang, F. (2017). Circadian rhythms and second language performance. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 7(1), 47-60.
Author Biographies

Kees de Bot, University of Pannonia, Veszprém Fang Fang got her MA degree (cum laude) in applied linguistics from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands in 2015. Now she is working as a customer service executive at She intends to build a career in the travel industry.

Kees de Bot got his PhD from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. His interests range from bilingual processing to language attrition and language development over the lifespan, language and aging and circadian rhythm in language learning. His main research topic now is what counts as evidence in applied linguistics. He has published in the main leading journals in the field of applied linguistics and published a book on the history of applied linguistics with Routledge in 2015. He recently retired from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands and is now working at the University of Pannonia in Hungary.

Fang Fang, University of Pannonia, Veszprém


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