This is a guest post by our friends from The Metcalf Infant Research Lab at Brown University, where Itty Bitty and I had a lovely time this summer! I hope this information helps you - and maybe encourages you and your little one to help Brown further their research :) -- Tall Mom
How do babies learn language?
I’m sure you and many parents have wondered how babies learn language! Over the last 25 years, here at The Metcalf Infant Research Lab at Brown University, we’ve wondered about it every day! How do they find the boundaries between words in speech (therearenospacesbetweenwordswhenwetalk)?
What do babies know about the individual sounds that make up the words of their language? Which properties of the speech that babies hear are helpful in the learning process?
Babies are adorable and they hold the answers we’re looking for!
We love meeting babies and their families, not just because they’re adorable and fun to see but because they are the little people that hold the answers we’re looking for! We’re a developmental psycholinguist lab located on the Brown Campus in a building situated on Thayer Street.
Our main focus is on infant language acquisition. What is it about developing babies and language that allows those babies to become experts in human language, before they even learn to tie their own shoes? There are many different components that make up human language: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics are a good start of the list. As you can imagine, there’s a lot for us to figure out in terms of infants and their developing use of these features. You can find some of our research interests and our published scientific articles on our website, under “our research”, at www.babies.brown.edu.
We love having new families visit us!
Itty Bitty went through one of our mispronunciation studies and I think you’d agree that it was pretty easy. He seemed happy, even excited to look at the images we showed him while we were playing some sentences for him to hear. Generally babies are happy to go through our short sessions. We know it helps that they’re always seated on a parents lap. The best part for our little visitors is when they get to pick out a gift (their paycheck) from our gift cabinet. We try to stay well stocked with a variety of toys, books and infant lab t-shirts to choose from.
Presently all of our studies are a one time commitment and are completed on the same day that you come in! We’ll call to see if a family would like to come back when the baby’s the right age for another study, but the studies are unrelated. The total visit time is approximately half an hour! We spend most of our time working with babies between the ages of 5 months to 26 months of age; born within 1 month of their due date, and that are predominately exposed American English, with normal hearing and development.
Check us out on Facebook!
We now have a Facebook page if anyone’s interested in checking us out there. Of course, we hope all our visitors will “like” our page! Honestly the main purpose for our presence on FB is to get involved in the online social networking world, but we’re also trying to use Facebook as a platform to provide a resource for moms, dads and moms-to-be, with fun and helpful information on pregnancy, development, parenthood, kid-friendly ideas, local events, area happenings and more. We’re attempting to develop a sense of community.
We strongly encourage participants from our studies and others to share our page with friends and family members who they think might want to learn more about us! They may even find an image of their little one’s visit to the lab posted there, always with written consent from the parent!
Here’s our Q code! It links directly to our online sign up form for anyone who would like to be contacted by one of our research assistants!