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Language Acquisition Research Group, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

We are an interdisciplinary research team based in Montreal, comprising researchers from McGill University and from the Université de Montréal.  Our current focus is on Neurocognitive perspectives on the acquisition, loss and processing of language, funded by a team grant from the Fonds de recherche du Québec  – Société et culture. We investigate neurocognitive underpinnings of language acquisition and use amongst learners who are bilinguals, early or late second language learners, or learners with language impairment. The approach is interdisciplinary, embracing different theoretical and methodological perspectives, both linguistic and psycholinguistic. A number of projects are underway, investigating a variety of linguistic phenomena and involving comparisons between monolinguals and bilinguals, impaired and unimpaired language learners, early and late acquirers of second languages, and learners experiencing language loss at different ages.

The research team is headed by Professor Lydia White, James McGill Professor of Linguistics at McGill University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Lydia White is internationally recognized as a pioneering scholar in the field of second language research conducted from the generative linguistic perspective. Her work is guided by the hypothesis that universal principles which underlie first language acquisition apply also to the attainment of other languages by adult learners. At the same time, the mother tongue crucially determines many properties of the grammar that learners build up in the course of language development.

Other members of the interdisciplinary team include: Prof. Fred Genesee (Dept. of Psychology, McGill University), Dr. Heather Goad (Dept. of Linguistics, McGill University), Prof. Yuriko Oshima-Takane (Dept. of Psychology, McGill University), Dr. Phaedra Royle (École d’orthophonie et d’audiologie, Université de Montréal), Prof. Karsten Steinhauer (School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University), Prof. Elin Thordardottir (School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University). In addition, the following McGill professors are collaborators on the team: Dr. Meghan Clayards (Linguistics; Communication Sciences and Disorders); Dr. Denise Klein (Montreal Neurological Institute); Dr. Kristine Onishi (Psychology); Dr. Michael Wagner (Linguistics). Team members collaborate on McGill’s interdisciplinary PhD program in Language Acquisition and they are also members of the Centre for Brain, Language and Music, which brings together researchers at McGill and other Montreal universities.

Click here to read the profile on language acquisition and bilingualism.