A team of Macquarie researchers and postgraduate students made their way to Boston last month, a city renowned as an international centre of higher education and medicine, to attend the 40th Boston University Conference on Language Development, the top international conference on language acquisition.
The Macquarie delegates, from the ARC Centre for Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), the Centre for Language Sciences (CLaS), and the Department of Linguistics, included Distinguished Professors Stephen Crain and Katherine Demuth, Associate Professor Rosalind Thornton, Postdoctoral fellows Nan Xu Rattanasone and Weiyi Ma, and PhD students Hui Chen, Ben Davies, and Kelly Rombough.
“I am delighted that our colleagues had eight presentations at the conference, representing the academic excellence of Macquarie University,” said Dr Weiyi Ma, who presented research comparing English and Mandarin speakers to determine how children acquire language syntax and word recognition.
Considered to be the most prestigious conference in the field of language acquisition, the conference program included presentations from an array of research areas, ranging from linguistic theory to cognitive development. PhD student Ben Davies, whose research focuses on the variant forms of grammatical units, says that the conference has allowed him to sharpen the focus of his research.
“It has allowed me to see where my topic sits within the broader area of language acquisition, and has given me perspective on what questions I should be asking and attempting to answer in the future,” he said.
Conference attendees included experts from research institutions worldwide as well as US universities Stanford and MIT. PhD student Kelly Rombough, whose research looks at children’s production and understanding of grammatical units, says that the conference offered her a great chance to engage with others in her field.
“As a PhD student it was a great opportunity to meet a number of well-known researchers in my field of work. I had the opportunity to discuss my research project one-on-one with both students and highly qualified and world-renowned researchers,” she said.
Macquarie has one of the largest concentrations of researchers focusing on how children learn language. Their participation in this conference – which only accepts around 14 per cent of paper presentation applicants – provides further evidence of the outstanding calibre of this research group.