Language Acquisition Facility

Language Acquisition Facility

The Language Acquisition Facility provides up-to-date technical support to researchers that wish to work on children's language development. Digital video recording equipment and sound recording equipment are available for data collection and analysis. This facility also hosts a large toy library, assembled over the years to provide props for the Truth Value Judgment Task and the Elicited Production Task, experimental techniques developed by Associate Professor Rosalind Thornton and Professor Stephen Crain.

The Language Acquisition Facility provides a welcoming environment for studies with children aged 18 months and upwards. Also working with different day care centres, a wide range of experiments have taken place in the lab, investigating the details of children's syntactic and semantic knowledge.

Current Projects

Much of the research in our lab has focused around children's acquisition of logical words such as 'or' and 'and' and how these words are interpreted in different sentence contexts in different languages. Members of our team have been investigating how these logical words function in English, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.

Our recent grant from the Australian Research Council continues our work on the acquisition of logical words. We have learned a lot about children's knowledge of these words using behavioural techniques, and we are now investigating children's knowledge of logical words using MEG (brain imaging) methodology. We already have experiments underway with 4-year-old English- and Mandarin-speaking children. Our international collaboration includes researchers in Hong Kong, Taiwan and in China: Professor Liqun Gao from Beijing Language and Culture University, Professor Thomas Hun-Tak Lee from City University of Hong Kong, and Professor Ovid Tseng from Academica Sinica in Taiwan. Our team is also drawing on the MEG expertise of Dr. Blake Johnson here at MACCS and the knowledge of logic and language offered by Dr. Drew Khlentzos from the University of New England. Many of our collaborators joined us for our 'Mandarin Fest Workshop' at Macquarie University in 2009.

We also have an ongoing collaboration with colleagues in Japan, Dr Hirohisa Kiguchi (Miyagi Gakuin Women's University) and Dr. Takuya Goro (Ibaraki University) on aspects of the syntax and semantics of English and Japanese. Last but not least, we continue to work with scientists at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, headed by Professor Hisashi Kado.

We have a lively team of research students and collaborators, and we welcome new students who are interested in joining us on this and other related projects on the acquisition of syntax and semantics. Our current students work on English, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, but we welcome students who speak other languages too.

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