Welcome to the Language Acquisition Lab in the Department of Linguistics at UMass Amherst! We study how children acquire language, including first, second, and bilingual acquisition. Our experiments explore the questions generated by core areas of linguistic theory, including syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. The results, in turn, shape those theories and inform our understanding of language and the human mind.
Our studies have been conducted in languages such as Japanese, Tamil, Italian, German, French, Spanish, and English. Some of our work was highlighted in The Human Language Series, a national PBS special on language.
Although the primary focus of our lab is experimental research, our results have been used to benefit children at various stages of development, educators, speech pathologists, and others involved with language issues. We collaborated with other departments to develop a diagnostic test for disorders (DELV, Pearson Assessments, 2003, 2005) that is currently being used with children across the US. For more information on interdisciplinary projects and collaborations with the Five Colleges, please visit the Language Acquisition Research Center (LARC).