Making small talk

Researchers in Linguistics & Phonetics are gaining new insights into child language acquisition thanks to the recently-launched Leeds Child Development Unit.


Headed by Dr Catherine Davies, Lecturer in Psycholinguistics, the unit works with local nurseries, schools and families to examine the development of grammar, vocabulary and communication. The team is completed by Cecile De Cat, Professor of Linguistics, research student Haifa Alatawi, and a team of undergraduate research assistants. The LCDU is looking to work with other researchers in child language acquisition across the University in the coming months.

So far, the LCDU team has examined how pre-schoolers organise information in sentences, the amount of information children provide when referring to objects, and how bilingual 4-6 year olds understand quantifiers like 'some' and 'all'.

Current work focuses on the types of language 3-year-old children experience during shared book reading, in order to reveal more about the links between the language a child hears and their own language development.

The LCDU lab is a colourful space with toys and games which is designed to make participating children feel at ease. The LCDU currently has over 160 children from birth to 10 years on their database, and is always on the lookout for participants to take part in their experiments.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students are also able to gain experience as volunteer research assistants or apply to carry out research of their own. For more information about the unit and how to get involved visit the LCDU website.

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