Lecturers: Professor Kim Plunkett and Dr Janette Chow

Synopsis:This course is designed to offer a detailed overview of early language acquisition, with a focus on early speech perception and production, lexical development, infant bilingualism, the impact of sleep on language development and the impact of language on cognitive development. It will examine some of the fundamental questions that have made this area of enquiry a central topic in cognitive science:

  • What relevant skills does the infant bring to the language learning situation?
  • What is the innate endowment that enables the infant to acquire language in such a rapid and error-free manner?
  • To what extent is language acquired by a general learning system as opposed to a pre-wired specialised acquisition device?
  • Is the mental representation of language best characterised in terms of a set of rules operating on a set of symbols?
  • How does the process of language acquisition interact with developing cognitive and social competences?
An important feature of this course is its inter-disciplinary and multi-methodological approach to the subject matter. Participants are encouraged to develop a familiarity with cognitive, computational and linguistic perspectives on language acquisition.

Recommended Part 1 course: Language & Cognition and/or Developmental Science

Timetable for Trinity Term 2020
Week Date Topic Lecturer
1. 28th April The Whorfian Infant Kim Plunkett
2. 5th May The Whorfian Infant Seminar
3. 12th May Phono-lexical Development Janette Chow
4. 19th May Phono-lexical Development Seminar
5. 26th May Words and the Visual World Janette Chow
6. 2nd June Words and the Visual World Seminar
7. 9th June Semantic Networks Kim Plunkett
8. 16th June Semantic Networks Seminar

Lectures and seminars are held online at 11am on Tuesdays using Panopto and Microsoft Teams. Reading lists for the tutorials and seminars are posted here.

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