Prof. Raphael Berthele

© Alan Humerose

Member of the Board of Directors

Full Professor of Multilingualism, University of Fribourg

Research interests

  • Multilingualism: intercomprehension, receptive competences, cross-linguistic interaction
  • Cognitive linguistics
  • Variational linguistics
  • Folk linguistics

Research projects (direction)


02.2024 - 01.2028

Vocabulary learning in a second or foreign language can take place in many different ways. In our project, we want to better understand how learners learn words incidentally or intentionally through the use of digital tools. Our project covers...


02.2024 - 12.2026

This interdisciplinary research project focuses on the relationship between multilingualism and plurilingualism, political institutions and legal conditions in Switzerland. The Swiss Confederation is a federal state with four national languages....


04.2021 - 12.2024

Digital translation tools and dictionaries have become an indispensable part of language use. DeepL, Leo and Co. are used extensively and for various purposes, however, their benefits for foreign language teaching and learning remain contested....


01.2021 - 12.2024

Vocabulary is the basis for receptive and productive language use. Influential theories on second language acquisition and learning consider vocabulary and grammar to be complementary, rather than opposing elements of language. Vocabulary...


11.2020 - 05.2024

This exploratory project addresses the question of the origins of individual differences in language aptitude, at different levels of language processing including but not limited to native language phonological, lexical and syntactic processing....


Information structure in bilingual speakers

Cross-linguistic influences and language dominance


01.2017 - 12.2021

Swiss National Science Foundation, project funding, project no. 176338 The aim of the project is to examine the different ways in which French, German and Italian speakers achieve cohesion in narrative spoken discourse. Our approach is derived...


01.2017 - 03.2021

The potential to learn foreign languages varies from one individual to the next and has been investigated by many researchers as of the early 1950s. Individuals’ ability to learn foreign languages relies on various elements that have been...


01.2017 - 12.2017

The standing of German in the Canton and City of Fribourg has been a topic of public debate for decades. Currently, French and German are official languages of the canton, and their use is anchored in the constitution; moreover, it is possible...


Motion at the linguistic border

On the influence of language dominance and language mode on the expression of motion in bilinguals (French-German)


01.2014 - 12.2017

In the past 30 years, research on the linguistic expression of spatial relations has shed light on systematic structural and lexical differences between languages. One such difference concerns how some Romance and Germanic languages (e.g....


Language of origin and language at school

Are language skills transferable?


01.2012 - 12.2014

The project "Language of origin and language at school: are language skills transferable?" was initiated to explore potential transfers between the language of origin and the language spoken at school in schoolchildren who attend heritage...


01.2013 - 12.2014

Project conducted by the University of Teacher Education Graubünden PHGR The project "Rumantsch receptiv" was created to develop teaching material for independent study and/or use in language courses. The goal of the project was to design...


01.2010 - 12.2013

Sinergia-Project of the Swiss National Science Foundation, no. 130457 This project examines dimensions of multilingualism that have heretofore received little attention in research. The question at the core of the project concerns how the...


Evolution of Semantic Systems EoSS

A joint research initiative of the Evolutionary Processes in Language and Culture Group and the project Categories across Language and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen


01.2011 - 12.2013

A joint research initiative of the Evolutionary Processes in Language and Culture Group and the project Categories across Language and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen The main aim of the EoSS project is to...


01.2012 - 12.2013

Concluded at the end of 2013, the project "Italiano ricettivo" developed the teaching material Capito?, which is intended for use either in classroom settings or as self-study tools. The aim of  Capito? is the development of receptive skills...


01.2010 - 12.2012

Adult language acquisition (of German) has generated a great deal of scientific interest over the past decades. However, variation in input and output as a consequence of specific sociolinguistic contexts has mostly been neglected so far....


09.2008 - 04.2011

This mandate from the cantonal government in Graubünden concerned the follow-up of introducing the newly consolidated written language Rumantsch Grischun to the so-called pioneer communes in the Canton of Graubünden. The communes in question...


01.2009 - 12.2009

Chunsch druus? (Swiss German for “get it?”) is a learning programme aimed at the general, mainly younger learner who wishes to develop key linguistic competences necessary for coping with the challenges of everyday life in the German part...

Research projects (collaboration)


06.2022 - 12.2022

For more than three decades, the Canton of Valais “Bureau des Echanges Linguistiques” (office for language exchanges) has been responsible for coordinating language exchange programmes in the canton’s two language regions as well as outside...


11.2010 - 03.2013

This pan-European project was initiated in 2010 by the British Council and aimed at developing an index in order to compare the language environment in 20 European countries. The index captures the following aspects: (foreign) language teaching,...