Institute of English Languages and Literatures

Sara D. Beck

PhD Student in Project B9 of the Collaborative Research Center 833
M.A. English Linguistics, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
B.A. Linguistics and German, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, USA

Sara Beck (maiden: Wallsworth) did her undergraduate studies in Linguistics and German at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, USA. Upon graduation in 2010, she received a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship grant and moved to Germany to teach English at the Erich-Kästner Gymnasium in Eislingen. She received her M.A. in English Linguistics at the University of Tübingen in 2013, with a focus on second language acquisition and teaching. In 2014, she began her doctoral research with the SFB 833 at the University of Tübingen under the supervision of Andrea Weber and Claudia Friedrich. While she has remained involved in teaching English to non-native speakers in the English department and beyond, her doctoral project focuses on psycholinguistic research on native and non-native language processing.

Research Interests

Using online ratings, reaction time experiments, eye-tracking, and fMRI, her current research addresses:

  • Native and nonnative idiomatic processing
  • Storage of idioms and formulaic language
  • Online access to literal and figurative meaning
  • Activation of literal and figurative language in the brain
  • Effects of global and local context on nonnative processing
  • Nonnative memory for and learning of idioms

Organized Events


  • TBD



  • Beck, S.D. & Weber, A. (2020)Context and Literality in Idiom Processing: Evidence from Self-Paced Reading. J Psycholinguist Res.
  • Beck, S.D. & Weber, A. (2019). Context matters, figuratively, for L2 readers: Evidence from self-paced reading. Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, 1, e057. doi: 10.7939/r3-mncb-c270
  • English-German DIN
    Links to English-German Database of Idiom Norms (DIN).
  • Beck, S. D. & Weber, A. (2016). L2 Idiom Processing: Figurative Attunement in Highly Idiomatic Contexts. Conference Proceedings Paper at CogSci, 13th Aug 2016.
  • Beck, S. D. & Weber, A. (2016). Bilingual and monolingual idiom processing is cut from the same cloth: The role of the L1 in literal and figurative meaning activation. Frontiers in Psychology, 7:1350. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01350

Conferences and Invited Talks

Conference Talks and Posters


  • "L2 Learners' memory for newly-learned idioms and constituent words." Poster, AMLaP 2019 om Moscow, Russia, 6. September, 2019.
  • "Native and non-native idiom comprehension: An fMRI Study." Poster Bilingualism and Cognition Symposium (AMLaP), 5. September, 2019.


  • "L1 and L2 Learners Keep Their Eyes on the Prize: Eye-tracking Evidence during Idiom Recognition." Paper presented with Ruth Keßler at the Workshop on Psycholinguistic and Computational Perspectives on Non-Compositional Meaning in Phrases in Tübingen, Germany, 30. November 2018.
  • "Context and Literality in L1 and L2 Idiom Processing: A Self-paced Reading Study." Poster, 11th International Conference on the Mental Lexicon 2018 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 27. September 2018.
  • "The Effects of Context and Literality on L1 and L2 Idiom Processing: Evidence from Self-paced Reading." Poster, AMLaP 2018 in Berlin, Deutschland, 6. September 2018.
  • "Context and literality in non-native idiom processing: A self-paced reading study." Poster, Tübingen Summer School in L2 Acquisition in Tübingen, Deutschland, 25. July 2018.


  • "Reading idioms literally and figuratively: The effects of literality and context on L2 idiom processing." Paper presented at the workshop Aquiring Figurative Meanings in Oslo, Norway, October 6th, 2017.
  • "The availability of literal meaning in idiom processing: A self-paced reading study" Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCOP) in Potsdam, Germany, September 5th, 2017.


  • "Seeing the error of one's ways in L1 and L2 idiom processing: Testing the effects of context and literality with self-paced reading" Poster presentation at Current Trends in Figurative Language Research: An international workshop in Tübingen, December 9, 2016.
  • "L2 Idiom Processing: Figurative Attunement in Highly Idiomatic Contexts" Talk held at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society in Philadelphia (USA), August 12, 2016.


  • "Getting into the idiomatic zone: Access to figurative meaning in L2 listeners in varying experimental contexts" Talk held at the workshop Studying Language Learning: From the Laboratory to the Classroom in Tübingen (Germany), December 11, 2015.
  • "Translatability and the activation of literal and figurative meaning in idioms by native and non-native listeners" Poster presentation at ESCOP: The 19th Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology in Paphos (Cyprus), September 19, 2015.
  • "In the process of understanding: Activation of literal and figurative meaning in idioms by native and non-native listeners" Talk held at BCGL8: The Grammar of Idioms in Brussels (Belgium), June, 5, 2015.


  • "L2 Idiom Processing" Talk held at the Crosslinguistic Perspectives on Language Learning and Processing (CLiP) in Tübingen (Germany), July 29, 2014.

Invited Talks


  • Beck, S.D. (2019). Flexibility in the Composition of Idiomatic Meaning: Evidence from Online Processing. Invited talk, Research group: Compositionality in Idioms, Manchester, England 4. April 2019.


  • Beck, S.D. & Weber, A (2018).The dynamics of understanding literal and non-literal meaning in idiomatic expressions: A look at language learners. Invited talk, Formulaic Language Processing and acquisition Research in Nijmegen, Niederlande, 19. Juni 2018.