Learning to Listen Ahead in English
For the last 20 years, our research has focused on children's developing skill at processing language in real time. Adults can understand spoken language with phenomenal speed and efficiency, processing 20-30 speech sounds per second in normal conversation. As infants begin learning language one word at a time, how and when do they become "fluent listeners" able to comprehend meanings in rapid speech? In the "looking-while-listening" procedure, we are discovering how young children develop competence in understanding spoken language during their first years of life and how those skills relate to children's later skills in language production, reading, and cognition. By learning more about how children understand spoken language, we hope to develop tools for early identification and evidence for intervention practices for children with language delays.
Habla Conmigo Academy
Check out our new website!! hablaconmigoacademy.org!
Habla Conmigo Academy is a satellite of the Language Learning Lab at Stanford University. We work primarily with Spanish-speaking and Spanish-English bilingual children in the Bay Area. We are interested in extending the research from the Language Learning Lab to diverse populations such as children who are learning Spanish at home from an early age. We study how children develop their ability to comprehend spoken language and we look at the factors that facilitate their language development, such as language experiences and communication between parent and child.
In addition, we have developed a new parenting program that focuses on facilitating communication between parents and children. We have a special focus on "learning through language" and helping parents enhance the language experiences that children get at home and promoting the environmental factors that contribute to the academic success of Spanish-speaking children.
School Age Outcomes in Spanish/English Bilinguals
In this ongoing longitudinal study, we have the unique opportunity to explore the long-term links between children's early language processing skills in Spanish and later school-related skills in both English and Spanish. Children and their families who participated in an earlier study with they were 2 years old are invited to return to the Community Laboratory in Sunnyvale now that the children are 4 1/2, 6 and 8 years of age. It is so exciting to see how much the children have grown while we play fun and engaging games that tap into a range of oral language, literacy and math skills!
Many Latino children in the Bay Area are “growing up bilingual,” showing remarkable skill at learning both English and Spanish at the same time. In this study, we are exploring the various pathways that children take to become bilingual over the course of the preschool years. We are tracking both in-home (e.g., learning from parents, siblings or other relatives) or outside-the-home (e.g., daycare, neighborhood events) opportunities for learning. Our goal is to understand the kinds of experiences that support increased learning of English, but that also support continued growth in Spanish in these young children.
California Outreach Program
Having established the foundation for our research in the Bay Area, the Outreach project gave us an opportunity to achieve a critical next step in our research program: Reaching out across our state to include children in our studies from many different communities. To do this, we equipped an RV with the same child-friendly testing procedures that we use at the Stanford campus, and took this Mobile Lab "on the road" all across California. We are so grateful to the many different families who participated in our projects! We are hoping to return to Northern California next spring to reconnect and check back in with these families. It will be so exciting to see how much the children have grown!
Language Learning by Children Born Preterm
Some children born prematurely are at an increased risk of language-based learning disabilities, however, there are considerable individual differences in outcomes with many preterm children performing in ways that are indistinguishable from their full-term peers. Our previous research shows that measures of speech processing efficiency in full term infants predict later success on cognitive and language tasks in childhood. In this longitudinal study, we followed children from 18 to 54 mos, examining the clinical utility of early language processing measures for identifying relations between early skills and later outcomes in this clinical population. The results of this study have revealed many interesting findings that will inform future theoretically- and empirically-driven intervention research and studies of the neural basis of language acquisition.
Language Processing by Children Learning ASL
While our previous studies have made many important discoveries about how young children acquire spoken language, very little is known about how young children develop proficiency in interpreting signed languages such as American Sign Language (ASL) in real time. In this pioneering, translational project, we adapted our innovative measures used in research on spoken-language understanding to study the early development of receptive fluency in deaf or hearing children learning ASL. Using the newly developed "looking-while-watching" task, we were able to explore individual differences in real-time efficiency in language processing in both spoken and signed languages. This research has yielded valuable new insights into the role of early language processing skills for children learning a signed language like ASL. Thanks so much to the California School for the Deaf and all of the families who participated in this research!
Stanford Tostan Project
In the Stanford Tostan Evaluation Project (STEP), we extended our research on the crucial role of early language experience to parents and children in an African culture. Funded by the Hewlett Foundation, this project included 480 caregiver-child pairs living in 24 Wolof-speaking villages in rural Senegal. Half of these communities participated in a parent-education program led by Tostan, an African human rights organization (http://www.tostan.org). In longitudinal assessments of children 4 to 42 months, we gathered extensive data on parenting practices and beliefs as well as children’s language outcomes, using the same fine-grained quantitative and qualitative measures developed in our laboratory research. Findings from the STEP project yielded valuable insights into cultural differences in caregiver-child interactions and the contributions of early language experience to children's language development.