Dr Rebecca Frost, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Language learning by numbers: using statistics to find words and structure in speech
Acquiring a language requires mastering a number of critical tasks, including identifying individual words in speech, and discovering the constraints that govern the way those words are structured and used. Speech is replete with cues that can help learners to succeed on these tasks – including information about the way that particular items co-occur. In this talk, I will present research that investigates infants’ and adults’ capacity to segment speech and detect language structure from this distributional information, and I will discuss the nature of the statistical learning mechanisms that learners draw upon to do so. I will also describe evidence that suggests infants’ statistical learning in the lab relates meaningfully to their language proficiency, both concurrently and up to over a year later.
Host: Chloe Newbury