The overall goals of these two conferences are to attain a better understanding of second language acquisition after childhood, and in so doing, to contribute original insights to our understanding of the human language capacity. Two EURESCO conferences (1996 & 98) organised on the topic have gone some way towards achieving these goals, and it is intended to consolidate this effort. The previous meetings analysed empirical findings for the acquisition of a number of European languages, and a consensus emerged as to what the relevant descriptive generalisations over second acquisition (SLA) are.
A strong motivation for proposing two further meetings is that there is much less consensus on the relative importance to be given to different theoretical explanations for second language acquisition. Now is a very timely opportunity, after three decades of intensive and largely European empirical research, to test the explanatory power of different theoretical approaches on agreed, and crucial, sets of data and, furthermore, to test the generality of the SLA results by asking outside experts to critically discuss them. On a more concrete level, this involves building a platform where European second language acquisition research findings can also be discussed by theoretical linguists, experimental psycholinguists and first-language acquisition researchers. Such an interdisciplinary approach is essential to the enterprise, and provides, moreover, an ideal context for young researchers to appreciate the broader questions facing the linguistic sciences (see Training Content).