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Press Release:

MEDIA CONTACT: Lisa Metcalf
561-297-
3022 , lfreed@fau.edu


FAU’s Language Development Lab Conducts Research
Local Children Sought to Participate in Bilingual Study


DAVIE, FL (October 6, 2010) – Florida Atlantic University’s language development lab, a part of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and located on the Davie campus, currently is conducting a study, with a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, to measure a wide range of children’s skills in English and Spanish in order to understand the process of bilingual development . Under the direction of Professor Erika Hoff, the information collected will be used to better understand how the knowledge that children acquire in their early years of life provides the foundation for later language development. 

The language development lab is currently recruiting children, ages 24 to 30 months, who are currently learning English and Spanish at home.  Those participating in the bilingual study 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 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: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, 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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