My research looks at how children understand meaning beyond vocabulary and grammar. I investigate how children make choices about how to refer to objects, for example, do they say the spotty dog, the dog, or he to introduce a character in a story? Why does this differ from what adults do? I’m also interested in how children understand other people’s referring expressions. Do they first look at all objects in a scene before describing a specific object? How do they work out how much detail to provide in their referring expressions? Do they refer to things in a certain way for specific people, and expect specific people to use certain expressions? I’m also interested in children’s inferencing ability and how this can be improved during shared bookreading.
I study language development in monolingual and bilingual children, and seek to understand how it interacts with their cognitive development. Some of the questions I seek to address include:
- From what age do children master the linguistic rules underlying the exchange of information? How does their cognitive development interact with their linguistic development in that respect?
- How does the amount of bilingual experience of a child affect their proficiency in the language of schooling?
- How do bilingual experience and socio-economic factors affect children’s cognitive development
I am a developmental psychologist interested in the factors that affect how children learn to read, these include spoken language skills, working memory, sleep and whether a child has a neurodevelopmental disorder, such as a specific language impairment, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. My current research includes the Paediatric Narcolepsy Project, a behavioural intervention for sleep problems in children with ADHD and a White Rose DTC ESRC Network (2015 – 2018) for understanding and enhancing reading and language skills in children for whom English is an additional language.
Catherine Porter, Anna Richardson, Charissa Lim (Undergraduate Research Assistants 2016/17)
Catherine graduated in BA Linguistics and Phonetics in summer 2017. She focused on language processing modules such as language acquisition, psycholinguistics and experimental pragmatics, and has a special interest in the acquisition of gesture. Anna graduated from the same programme in 2017. Her main interests are in syntax, psycholinguistics and pragmatics. Charissa is a final year undergraduate studying for a BA in Childhood Studies. Her interests include cognitive development of young children, and the pedagogy and practices surrounding childhood education. The RA team worked in the LCDU throughout 2016/17 in collaboration with a team at Boston University on projects on adjective acquisition, and the relationship between child-directed speech and children’s own speech.