Learning a language is not always easy!

The Groupe de recherche sur l'acquisition du langage (Language Acquisition Research Group), directed by Lydia White from Université McGill, is examining four different contexts for language acquisition: first language acquisition, simultaneous acquisition of two languages, second language acquisition in children and adults, and language acquisition in children with language-related disabilities.

The objective is to study the nature and extent of age effects in language acquisition in different types of language learners. The researchers are focusing on how age differences affect linguistic representations, language development, processing and use, by comparing different acquisition contexts. They are exploring various languages including Chinese, English, French, German, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.

The research is still ongoing, but has already produced some preliminary results. As far as young children are concerned, the researchers have discovered that those who are adopted abroad show a persistent delay in their general language abilities. This work also shows how different grammar components interact. For example, in adults, accent and intonation have a subtle influence on phrase interpretation. When it comes to second language acquisition in adults, the preliminary results show that more mature learners have no general difficulties. They may feel the effects of switching to another language in certain linguistic domains, but not in others.

On the long term, the results of this research will have a tangible impact on the development of medical interventions and in the field of language teaching.


Groupe de recherche sur l'acquisition du langage


Lydia White, Université McGill

Regular members

  • Fred H. Genesee, Université McGill 
  • Heather Goad, Université McGill 
  • Yuriko Oshima-Takane, Université McGill 
  • Karsten Steinhauer, Université McGill 
  • Elin Thordardottir, Université McGill