Research topic: Language acquisition
Language acquisition is about how children acquire one or more first languages, what we call first language acquisition; and how children and adults acquire new languages once the first language is established, what we call second language or foreign language acquisition.
Research on language acquisition investigates the acquisition of sound structure (or sign structure, when it concerns sign language), vocabulary, grammar, meaning and conversational skills.
Language acquisition is studied within various fields of expertise. At the Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies (ILN) we are primarily interested from a linguistic aspect. At the same time, language acquisition is a field in which we need to work across disciplines in order to gain maximum information about the processes. We therefore cooperate with researchers in psychology, medicine, education and special education. We also cooperate with speech therapists and others who work with speech difficulties.
Seen from a theoretical perspective, language acquisition can open a “peephole” to examine the relationship between language and the brain. One can also examine the relationship between language and the situation in which it is acquired. Cross-linguistic comparisons of acquisition can provide us with knowledge on differences and similarities between languages.
In an applied perspective, studies of language acquisition are necessary to map typical language development, and to detect possible language problems in children. They are also useful for developing good teaching methods for adults learning a new language.