Dr Bene Bassetti

School of Education
Senior Lecturer in Bilingualism and Language Learning

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti is Acting Director of the MSc TESOL (Education), and leads Language and Cognition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Achievements include:

  • co-founder of the journal Writing Systems Research (2009-)
  • Supervisor of the Year Award (University of York, 2013)
  • Principal Investigator of a funded three-year project on orthographic effects on L2 phonology (2014-17). 

Feedback and office hours

Office hours are 2-3pm on Tuesdays during term time (please email for confirmation).


  • PhD, University of Essex
  • MA, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Laurea (BA Hons), La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, Postgraduate Certificate in Interpreting, Diploma in Chinese Language and Culture


Before joining Birmingham in 2018, Bene was a lecturer at the Universities of London (Birkbeck) and York, and an Associate Professor at the University of Warwick.


Bene teaches Second Language Learning on the MSc TESOL Education programme, Quantitative Research Methods in Psychology on the BSc Psychology in Education programme and contributes to Researching Childhood and Education on the BA Education programme.

Postgraduate supervision

Topics of interest

Bilingualism and language learning:

  • Bilingual cognition - especially language and thought in L2 learners and bilinguals
  • Second language writing systems - reading/spelling a second language; effects of orthography on L2 phonology

Dr Bassetti particularly welcomes proposals that:

  • involve Chinese, as a first or second language
  • involve experimental research
  • could be co-supervised with colleagues in Psychology or English


Language and thought in L2 learners and bilinguals

This line of research investigates whether knowing more than one language may affect the way people think, as predicted by the linguistic relativity hypothesis.

Bene’s current research in this area focusses on the effects of grammatical gender on perceptions of the masculinity or feminity of objects and animals. 

Second language writing systems

This line of research investigates the effects of knowing more than one writing system (also called orthography or script), including effects on reading and writing processes, metalinguistic awareness and speech production. Within this area, Dr Bassetti is investigating the effects of English orthographic forms (word spellings) on phonology in Italian speakers of English. 

Funded research projects

  • Leverhulme Trust, Principal Investigator (2014-2017)
    Effects of orthography on phonology in second language speakers of English
  • British Academy Small Grant (2009)
    Counterfactual reasoning in Chinese-English bilingual speakers
  • British Academy Small Grant (2005)
    Effects of pinyin on the pronunciation of Chinese as a second language

For more information please visit https://benebassetti.org/research

Other activities

  • British Psychological Society, Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) and Associate Fellow (AFBPsS)
  • Chartered Institute of Linguists, Chartered Linguist (CL), and Fellow (FCIL)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)


Selected publications

Cerni, T., Bassetti, B., & Masterson, J. (2019) Effects of orthographic forms on the acquisition of novel spoken words in a second language. Frontiers in Communication, 4, 31. DOI: 10.3389/fcomm.2019.00031 

Bassetti, B., Clarke, A., & Trenkic, D. (2018) The linguistic transparency of calendar terms affects calendar calculations: Evidence from Chinese-English bilinguals. Acta Psychologica, 186, 81-89.   DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.04.006

Bassetti, B., Sokolović-Perović, M., Mairano, P., & Cerni, T. (2018) Orthography-induced length contrasts in the second language phonological systems of L2 speakers of English: Evidence from minimal pairs. Language and Speech, 61(4), 577-597. DOI: 10.1177/0023830918780141

Bassetti, B. (2017) Orthography affects second language speech: Double letters and geminate production in English. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(11), 1835-1842. DOI: 10.1037/xlm0000417

Bassetti, B. & Lu, M. (2016) Effects of interword spacing on native English readers of Chinese as a Second Language. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 54(1), 1-22DOI: 10.1017/S0142716409990105.

Bassetti, B. & Nicoladis, E. (2016). Research on grammatical gender and thought in early and emergent bilinguals. In B., Bassetti & E., Nicoladis (Eds.) Grammatical gender and thought in early and emergent bilinguals. Special issue. International Journal of Bilingualism 20, 3-16. DOI: 10.1177/1367006915576824.

Bassetti, B. & Atkinson, N. (2015) Effects of orthographic forms on pronunciation in experienced instructed second language learners.  Applied Psycholinguistics, 36(1), 67-91. DOI: 10.1017/S0142716414000435 

Bassetti, B. (2014) Is grammatical gender considered arbitrary or semantically motivated? Evidence from monolinguals, second language learners and early bilinguals. British Journal of Psychology, 105(2), 273-294. DOI: 10.1111/bjop.12037  

Bassetti, B. & Masterson, J. (2012) Effects of removing morphemic information and adding interword spacing on reading in Chinese experienced and inexperienced readers. Reading and Writing, 25(9), 2291-2314. DOI: 10.1007/s11145-012-9358-7 

Bassetti, B. (2011) The grammatical and conceptual gender of animals in second language users. In V. J. Cook & B. Bassetti (Eds.) Language and bilingual cognition (pp. 357-384). Oxford, UK: Psychology Press.

Bassetti, B. & Cook, V. J. (2011) Language and cognition: The second language user. In V. J. Cook & B. Bassetti (Eds.) Language and bilingual cognition (pp. 143-190). Oxford, UK: Psychology Press.

Bassetti, B. (2009) Effects of adding interword spacing on Chinese reading: A comparison of Chinese native readers and English readers of Chinese as a Second Language. Applied Psycholinguistics, 30(4), 757-775.  DOI: 10.1017/S0142716409990105.

Full list of publications with downloadable pre-print: https://benebassetti.org/publications

View all publications in research portal