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Press Release:

MEDIA CONTACT : Linda Holtz
561-297-3029, lholtz@fau.edu


FAU’s Language Development Lab Conducts Research
Local Children Sought to Participate in Two Studies

DAVIE, FL (April 29, 2010) – Florida Atlantic University’s language development lab, located on FAU’s Davie campus, currently is conducting two ongoing, federally funded studies on the process of early language development in children. Under the direction of Professor Erika Hoff, researchers will focus on young children who are learning one language in the home during the first study, while the secondstudy will look at bilingual language development. The information collected will be used to better understand how the knowledge that children acquire in their first two years of age provides the foundation for later language development. 

The language development lab is currently recruiting children, ages 18 to 22 months, who are learning only English at home, as well as children, ages 22 to 30 months, who are learning English and Spanish at home, for both of these studies.  The parents of children in the monolingual study will receive a $25 gift card to Publix. Those participating in the bilingual study, the longer of the two studies, will receive two $50 Publix gift cards. Each child also will receive a small toy and a T-shirt for participating.

The first findings from Hoff’s research on bilingualism were presented in April 2009 at the meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development.  FAU researchers reported that bilingual children in South Florida can come from homes in which both parents are highly educated. Studies showed that children who are exposed to Spanish and English at home have at least one parent who is a native speaker of Spanish. It also was observed that those children with two native Spanish-speaking parents hear more Spanish than English at home. For children with one native Spanish-speaking parent, English is generally the dominant language.

FAU researchers also discovered that the language development of the bilingual children was no different from that of the English-only-speaking children when it came to the ability to repeat the sounds of each language. Studies show that children can learn the sound systems of the two languages on the same schedule as monolingual children learn the set of sounds from one language. In terms of the acquisition of vocabulary words and the development of grammar, the result was a little different. Both groups of children learned just as much, but the bilingual group, because their knowledge was divided between two languages, lagged a few months behind the monolingual group in achieving certain benchmarks. 

A member of the psychology faculty in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science since 1996, Hoff is the recipient of many professional and academic honors. During sabbatical leave from FAU, Hoff was a visiting scholar at McGill University and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.  She taught at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan.  Hoff has served as principal investigator for a number of external and internal research grants and awards. The author of five books, numerous book chapters and journal articles, Hoff is a frequent and highly respected presenter at conferences.  Hoff earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in science from Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey, and holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan.

For more information, contact FAU’s language development lab at 954-236-1142 or langdevlab@fau.edu.

-FAU-

About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges:  College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the College of Business, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.

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