Aims of the study
When children learn languages naturalistically (for example, if they move to a country where a new language is spoken) they are generally very successful, and more so than adults in the same situation. However the reasons for this differences are currently unknown. One way of investigating this is to teach children new words and sentences and see how they learn them.
We are interested in the way children learn new languages naturalistically, e.g., pick up a new language without being taught the rules explicitly but simply while performing a fun activity the language is associated with (in this case playing a computer board game).
Learning ‘by doing’ is typical of the way children learnt their mother tongue or would learn a second language in an immersion situation abroad.
Data collectionI am an Associate Lecturer in Linguistics at Lancaster University and have previously worked as a Language tutor at the University of Manchester. This study is part of my doctoral degree in Applied Linguistics at Lancaster University. It is a university requirement that all researchers involved in work with children have a valid and clean DBS certificate.
Data collection will require three separate sessions of about 40 minutes each (about 2 hours of your child's time in total) and I can meet you and the child at a local library.
In session 1:
The children will learn 12 words of a new language through memory games, and practise how to play a simple computer board game similar to draughts; the new words include the token names, four possible moves and how to express their direction (i.e., vertical/horizontal).
In session 2 and 3:
For a short time the children will watch a series of game moves on the computer and simultaneously listen to how to say the moves in the new language. Then they will have a go at playing the computer board game performing a move according to the description they hear (and gain points for correctly performed moves). The child's performance will typically improve with practice. The computer programme keeps a record of the game and by the analysis of correct and incorrect moves we will be able to understand which language structures are learned and how fast.
The children should be about 8/9 years old and can be enrolled individually or in pairs (e.g. with a friend). Enrolling with a friend adds a further element of fun to the activity as the children learn and play the computer game together. Preference will be initially given to participants in the area of Greater Manchester.
An Amazon voucher (£15) will be offered to each participant as a thank you at the completion of the third session of data collection.
Enrolment is now open. If interested in participating and for more information please use the contact form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!