The UMass Language Acquisition Research Center
- The Language Acquisition Research Center (LARC) was established in January 2011 to be an institution dedicated to research on first, second, bilingual and heritage language acquisition. It builds on the long tradition at UMass Amherst in formal models and experimental work in language acquisition based on current linguistic theory. LARC brings together faculty and students from different departments and programs to encourage the dissemination of information regarding the relationship between language acquisition research and other related areas such as language instruction, language policies, minority and heritage language communities, language disorders, and language revitalization.
- By fostering the collaboration among researchers in first language acquisition, second language acquisition, communication disorders, and other related disciplines, LARC aims at improving the campus’ capacity in three distinct areas: research, applications, and outreach.
LARC research goals:
- LARC researchers work to develop theoretical models of 1st, 2nd, and bilingual language acquisition that are based on linguistic theory by integrating theoretical and experimental results in acquisition models, and by exploring connections to computational models.
- Our goal is to engage undergraduate and graduate students from different departments and visitors from other institutions in research on first, second, and bilingual language acquisition that is derived from linguistic and sociolinguistic theory.
Applied work by LARC members:
- LARC researchers are interested in the implications of acquisition research for general applied work in communication disorders, second language acquisition, bilingual development, and heritage language acquisition. Some of our members are conducting projects directly related to second language instruction, language mediation, and classroom language practices.
- We are also involved in new initiatives in digital humanities related to language research and instruction, such as the development of new computer‐based tools for foreign language instruction, a corpus for heritage and second language speakers, and research uses of the new language laboratory.
- We aim at fostering debates on language policy, in particular the implications of language acquisition research for language instruction at the national and international levels. Some of our members are actively engaged in the debate of heritage/second language instruction in American schools. We also support projects that connect research findings in second language acquisition and instruction with the revitalization of native languages of the Americas.
- We are currently planning outreach activities with local heritage communities and summer and on‐line courses and workshops for language instructors, speech language therapists, and legislators in the region.