Variation Theme

How do children learn languages with different structures and in different cultural environments? 

Nepali Mother and ChildTheme Lead: Prof Elena Lieven, University of Manchester

All children bring the same set of learning mechanisms to the language-learning task. However, these mechanisms have to be flexible enough to learn any of the world’s languages in any of a wide range of socio-cultural environments. In this theme, we will be studying six different languages and four different contexts in which babies grow up.

There are three research projects under this theme. To find out more about each project follow the relevant link below:

Distributional learning and the development of word class categories in English, German and Dutch

Learning basic morphosyntax in languages with case marking: Polish and Finnish

Investigating prelinguistic development in three minority cultures


Our research under this theme will enable us to:

  • Advise health professionals about the effect of the structure of different languages on the profile of children’s language learning
  • Provide detailed advice to early years educators about the challenges that face children whose home language is not English, or who are learning language in different socio-cultural environments.

 Download our Variation Theme Flyer for more information.