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Science Spotlight.                                            June 2021

Links between children's early movement and language skills

Many studies that look at children's language don't look at their other abilities outside language. Some language studies will also look at children's cognitive abilities, but few look at their movement skills. A new longitudinal study by colleagues at Lancaster University found that children's movement skills are important for their language skills, particularly in 2-year-olds. Find out more.

Capturing curiosity from the cradle

Babies are active learners who are curious about almost everything that they encounter. But do they learn better when they are curious? Lancaster University PhD student Xiaoyun Chen has been finding out in a recent study. Find out more. 

How do children and adults understand pronouns? 

Speakers can choose whether to talk about someone using a proper name (e.g., Serena Williams), or a reduced name like a pronoun (e.g., she, her, herself). Pronouns can be tricky to interpret, particularly for children, as speakers need to be able to pick up on different cues. Research by new LuCiD postdoc, Dr Liam Blything, and colleagues at the University of Toronto, found that unlike adult pronoun interpretation, which appears to focus on cues such as verb meaning, children appear to rely more heavily on straightforward cues such as first mention. Find out more.

Learning to talk in lockdown

How has lockdown affected children's language skills?
Three national lockdowns resulted in children not being able to attend preschool or school settings for a large proportion of the last year. Prof Padraic Monaghan, (Lancaster University) discusses how children's language development has been impacted in lockdown and suggests some simple things we can do to support children. Read Padraic's blog to find out more

Multilingualism and lockdown
In families where more than one language is spoken, lockdown had the potential to change patterns of language use. In the spring and summer of 2020, a team of researchers came together to get a snapshot of language use in multilingual families during the first lockdown through a survey and interviews. This fantastic webinar on Languages in lockdownby researchers from the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (UK), UCL (UK), and MultiLing (Norway), shares some of the insights from their work.

Developmental Lectureship Posts

The Psychology Department at Lancaster University currently has two vacancies for Lecturers in the area of Developmental Psychology. Please check Jobs at Lancaster University for more details. The closing date for application is 5th July 2021.


LuCiD Online Seminar Series

29th June, 11am (FREE) - Prof Charles Hulme (University of Oxford, UK) will present the final seminar of this academic year on The effectiveness of early language intervention. Get in touch to request the zoom link or to join the seminar mailing list.

Speakers or topic suggestions for 2021/22 series - We are starting to put together next year's series. If you have speaker or topic suggestions do let us know.

External events

15th June, 7pm (FREE) Dr Marina Bazhydai will present the penultimate Lancaster Psychology Research Showcase on how babies seek information from others. The talk is open for anyone to attend via this link.

22nd - 24th June (FREE) Development in MOTION Conference (DevMoCon) is a free online conference organised by an interdisciplinary team of early-stage researchers from academic and industry settings of the MOTION Innovative Training Network.

1st - 2nd July,  (FREE) TEX2021: Bringing together Predictive Processes and Statistical Learning is a free online symposium with some of the leading figures in these fields.

New Resources


Reading for meaning: the importance of oral language skills

Prof Kate Cain (Lancaster University) has written two articles on Reading for meaning: the importance of oral language skills for Primary Matters, The National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) Magazine. These articles have been selected as open access samples available to non-members. Read the articles here.


Engage with Developmental Language Disorder (E-DLD)

E-DLD is a new website and network connecting people affected by DLD to academic research. It keeps families and individuals updated on research findings, current research projects and DLD-related activities, as well as hosting events, to allow members to share experiences. It also supports researchers and other professionals working to improve outcomes for people with DLD. Part of this includes the opportunity to advertise relevant research studies to E-DLD members. Visit the E-DLD website for more information. 

Take part in our research online

While we are preparing to reopen our labs for in person studies, please consider registering with us or see if we have a fun online study that matches your child's age. For our online studies we currently have several studies and need expectant mothers as well as children aged 10 months - 13 years to take part in these. All the studies are designed to be fun and are a nice way to add a bit of variety to your day! Find out how you can take part.

The ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD) is a collaboration between the universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester. Our mission is to bring about a step change in the understanding of how children learn to communicate with language, and deliver the evidence base necessary to design effective interventions in early years’ education and healthcare. We are funded by the 
Economic and Social Research Council under the Centres Transition Scheme (ref: ES/S0071131). 
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