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University of Massachusetts Amherst

Language Research Acquisition Research Center

About us

LARC builds on UMass Amherst’s leadership in linguistic theory and experimental research in first language acquisition, its longstanding interdisciplinary collaborations in the Five Colleges, and a track record of extramural funding in linguistics and psycholinguistics.

The University of Massachusetts was among the first ones in the nation to make a commitment to the study of language acquisition within the framework of contemporary linguistic theory. It has promoted Five-College collaborations, in particular with Smith College, as well as the departments of Languages, Psychology, Communication Disorders, and Computer Science. Since the late 1980s, LARC leadership has been involved in more than 25 dissertations written in this area, 8 related grants from NIH and NSF, as well as three training grants involving other aspects of psycholinguistics. There have been over 30 visitors including senior scholars, post‐docs, pre‐docs and a variety of other interested people. There have been half a dozen dissertations in Communication Disorders, and another five in Spanish, which have already developed from collaboration between Linguistics, Languages, and Communication Disorders, and several others in Psychology and the School of Education.

Also housed in CHFA and an organizational member of LARC, the Center for the Study of African American Language (CSAAL) is a leader in the study of African American English. Director Lisa Green has a wide range of experience in sociolinguistics and language acquisition, as well as established connections to communication disorders and other domains on campus and in the community. Synergistic with the CSAAL is the directors’ experience developing the DELV tests (Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation, Seymour, Roeper & de Villiers, 2003, 2005) for the field of communication disorders. Funded by a contract from NIH and a partnership with Harcourt Assessments, Inc. the DELV incorporated the most recent developments in 1st language acquisition into the diagnosis of language disorders. This project in turn gave birth to a European Union project involving language disorders in 26 different languages and dialects.

LARC directors have also demonstrated a substantial commitment to the extension of linguistic theory into 2nd language and bilingual acquisition with many publications in those areas as well. Moreover, new faculty members are bringing their experience in Digital Humanities and the development of computer tools for language teaching and research.