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Michael Frank, 4:00pm Tuesday May 29th


Michael Frank

 Stanford University

    Tuesday, May 29th
    Swift 107
    4:00pm (Reception to follow)

Bigger data about smaller people: Studying children’s language learning at scale

How do children acquire a language? Decades of work have provided a roadmap of principles and mechanisms for early language learning as attested by small-scale laboratory tasks. But there is not yet a convincing empirical synthesis of this work that addresses both the systematicity and ubiquity of language learning and the variability of learning trajectories across children.

In this talk I will describe some initial steps towards such a synthesis. This research integrates high-density data from individual children learning a single language and summary data from tens of thousands of children learning more than a dozen languages. Taken together, the data support a hybrid picture in which children slowly accumulate knowledge in rich social contexts but also show evidence for surprisingly fast grammatical abstractions.