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Some of our research in an easy-to-digest format

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Do toddlers know which sounds frequently occur together in their native language?

August 2023

It is well known that babies and children can identify sounds which occur together frequently in artificial languages, and this can help them to learn words. Yet, it is unclear whether they can do the same to help them learn words in their native language. This study plans to test whether toddlers are better at repeating made-up words which follow the same patterns as their native language over made-up words which are different from their native language, and whether this links to their vocabulary size.

Heather Turnbull, Rebecca Frost, & Jill Lany


How can we use the factors that explain vocabulary size to ​identify those children who are late to talk?

September 2018

Why is it that a significant proportion of children who are slow to begin talking (Late Talkers), go on to develop Developmental Language Disorder, whilst other children who begin as Late Talkers, catch up with their non late-talking peers?
To learn more, this study investigated whether the factors that can explain individual differences in vocabulary size can also classify ​children who are, and are not, slow to talk.

Lana S. Jago, Michelle Peter, Amy Bidgood, Samantha Durrant, Julian M. Pine, & Caroline Rowland


Does how quickly children process words early on relate to their later language?

July 2018

A number of studies have shown that children who process familiar words more quickly, have larger vocabularies later on. In this study, as part of the longitudinal Language 0-5 Project, we try to understand why the two (processing speed and word knowledge) are related. Is having a faster processing speed helpful for young children learning new words? Or, could processing speed simply be a measure of how quickly a child is able to access the words that they already know?

Michelle Peter, Amy Bidgood, Samantha Durrant, Julian Pine, & Caroline Rowland


Does using baby sign really help to improve children's language ​development?

July 2018

​In the UK, baby sign is an increasingly popular activity amongst parents and their pre-verbal infants. Companies promoting baby sign
make many claims about its benefits, including improving language development, decreasing frustration and enhancing parent-child
bonding. These are big claims, but it is unclear that baby sign works, and, if it does, how it works.

In this study, as part of the longitudinal Language 0-5 Project, we try to find out whether baby sign enhances mother-child interactions
​which, in turn, improves language development.

Amy Bidgood, Elizabeth Kirk, Samantha Durrant, Michelle Peter, Julian Pine, & Caroline Rowland


Are the errors that children make with verbs different for children with Developmental Language Disorder?

June 2018

It is well known that children make errors in their speech as they learn their native language. What is less well understood is why they make some of these errors and why the pattern of these errors is different for different groups of children. In this study, we asked German children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and language-matched controls to take part in a verb-elicitation task that would allow us to compare two different theories about the processes that lead to these different error patterns.

Charleen List, Ben Ambridge, Elena Lieven, & Julian Pine


Can we overcome the barriers to shared book reading for some families?

July 2017

Shared reading interventions have the potential to impact positively on preschool children’s language development and on their
caregiver’s attitudes/behaviours towards reading. However, a number of barriers may discourage families from participating or engaging
with these interventions, particularly families from lower socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds. We investigated how families from
lower SES backgrounds responded to an intervention designed to overcome these barriers by, in particular, emphasising the enjoyment
of reading, rather than its educational value. 

Jamie Lingwood, Josie Billington, & Caroline Rowland

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