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Science Spotlight                                          Summer 2022

How Preschool Teachers Speak to Children with Different Language Backgrounds

A challenge that early years practitioners in the UK face is that they are not sure how best to communicate with children who are learning English as an additional language (EAL). Across the UK, the percentage of EAL pupils has more than doubled from 7.6% in 1997 to 19.5% in 2020. For some of these children, (pre)school is one of the first and few environments where they hear and speak English. It is vital to support these children in learning English as early as possible to integrate them into preschool, and later school, because being behind in the societal language may have implications for later academic achievements. One of the first steps in overcoming this challenge is to find out how preschool teachers speak to EAL children, and then find out which language features of preschool teacher speech relate to EAL children’s language development. Jacky Chan and colleagues did exactly that. Please read Jacky's recent blog to find out more. 

What predicts story comprehension in bilingual children?

An essential aspect of language development is the need to understand spoken language and make sense of what others say. Children need to comprehend what is explicitly mentioned (literal understanding), and they often need to make informed guesses about what is being implied but not said.  In other words, they need to make inferences. Literal comprehension and inferential comprehension are crucial for understanding stories. Although some evidence exists for what predicts good story comprehension in monolingual children, relatively little is known about how bilingual children’s cognitive skills (memory and attention) and their linguistic skills (knowledge of words and grammar) predict their literal and inferential comprehension of stories. Because bilingual children’s language input is divided across two languages, another important predictor of how well these children comprehend stories is the quantity and length of exposure to English. Our LuCiD Co-Investigator Ludovica Serratrice (University of Reading) and her colleagues recently published their work on listening comprehension in bilingual children in Language Learning, and alongside the open access article provided an accessible summary for the OASIS database.


Laura Mitchell has joined the LuCiD team as our new LuCiD Centre manager. She has worked for a variety of externally funded research projects at the University of Manchester for over 15 years and has a degree in Environment, Ecology and Economics but has always had a keen interest in Psychology and Early Years education.  

LuCiD Summer Internship 
Congratulations to Amie Suthers, Phoebe Shaw from Lancaster University and Orlaith Kelly, Jo Neumegen, Yi An and Emily Hayden from University of Manchester for securing this year’s LuCiD internships. We hope that you will enjoy your placement and are already looking forward to reading about your projects.  

We wish Lana JagoSam Jones and Charlotte Jones good luck in their new ventures! Lana started as a PhD student in LuCiD 1, working on the Language 0-5 Projectand continued as a postdoc in LuCiD 2 on the Language 0-7 ProjectLana has now been appointed as a Teaching Associate in Developmental Psychology at Lancaster University, a position she will start in September 2022.  Sam Jones joined LuCiD 2 with a research interest in developmental language disorder (DLD). During his time with us, Sam has found that apparent working memory capacity deficits - widely considered a cause of DLD - may be attributed to the low precision of long-term speech memories. Sam is now moving to Bangor University to take up a new position as Lecturer in Developmental Psychology. Charlotte Jones has taken up the role as Head of Operations at the Productivity Institute (University of Manchester).  Congratulations to all of you!

Job opportunities 

We are advertising 3 Lectureship/Senior Lectureship posts at the University of Liverpool and would welcome applications from people with research interests in language development. Feel free to contact Julian Pine with any questions if you are interested in applying. Closing date is 11th August 2022Click here for more information.


LuCiD Online Seminar Series

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the 2021/22 seminar series. We are currently contacting presenters for the 2022/23 academic year with yet another fantastic line-up that we will share with you in due course. We are planning to host our next seminar series online as well as in-person/blended for speakers who are based in the UK. Please click here to view all recordings and don’t forget to encourage any new members of your team to join our mailing list

Upcoming LuCiD seminar
6th September 2022 (11am in Liverpool) Prof Usha Goswami (University of Cambridge) Language Acquisition: A Temporal Sampling Perspective

4th October 2022 (5pm UK time via Zoom) Prof Michael Frank (Stanford University) Modeling children's early language learning by building cross-linguistic data resources

LuCiD Knowledge exchange

Thank you to Sam Jones (Demystifying Bayesian Statistics) and Ben Ambridge (Blog-writing workshop) for providing training to our network. The LuCiD core group also met for the first time in-person since the start of the pandemic. We met in Lancaster and enjoyed the beautiful scenery at Forest Hills while catching up with projects, engaging in discussions and getting to know new members  Shijie ZhangChen Zhao & Laura Mitchell.  

We are looking forward to our next training sessions this October. LuCiD’s own Andrew Jessop (University of Liverpool) will share his knowledge on Power Analysis. The workshop is planned on the 26th October 2022 in Manchester (Turing Seminar Suite, Coupland 1 Building) 1-4pm (lunch provided from 12pm). Please complete this form if you would like to attend.  


OASIS Database
The OASIS database is a great resource that makes research on language learning, use, and education available and accessible to a wide audience. You can receive all new one-page, accessible summaries of the latest publications in top journals in the field of language learning, language teaching, and multilingualism each month by Signing up to their newsletter. 

North West Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) Regional Network
NW SEND Regional Network reports to the NW Association of Director of Children Services (ADCS) SEND and health Sub group. This is an established Network of Local Authority Children's Services Leads and Health Leads with the aim to support the North West Region to co-produce a brighter future for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (0-25) & their families. You can access their monthly newsletters here, packed with all the latest local, regional and national SEND news and updates.

National Children's Bureau - A Better Start (ABS)
Five A Better Start partnerships, based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend, are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life by developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, speech, language and communication. We thought the following blogs from the NCB, in relation to the 5 ABS would be well received by our LuCiD community. 

Take part in our research

Please consider registering with us if you live in close proximity to one of our Labs at Manchester, Lancaster or Liverpool or see if we have a fun online study that matches your child's age. We have a number of online studies and need children aged 5 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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