The CLAL Current Activities:
       
  • CLAL houses language acquisition data from children acquiring language in more than 20 languages and cultures across the world. Every developmental stage is sampled, from first words to complex syntactic structures, in audio and/or video data, from children across these languages.
  • Students from Linguistics and Developmental Psychology as well as Computer Science, including native speakers from these languages, analyze these data from children at every stage of language development and work to determine a universal course of language acquisition and language specific variations on this universal course of development.
  • Combined with linguistic theories regarding the nature of language (e.g., the theory of Universal Grammar proposed by Chomsky) and studies of language typology, students and faculty use these data to develop an explanatory theory for language acquisition.
  • Hypotheses generated by these theories are used to guide brain imaging studies regarding the neuroscientific foundations for language acquisition in the human species.

  • New data are continually collected. For example, individual experimental studies are designed, and in connection with these, students do experiments with children in local schools and day care centers to test specific hypotheses regarding language acquisition, and to test questions regarding development of specific linguistic structures.

  • Currently several experiments are also testing hypotheses regarding children's acquisition of more than one language at a time, multilingualism, and the effects of this on cognitive development.
  • Numerous student Honors Theses, Masters theses, and Doctoral theses are conducted annually by individual students, involving collection of new data with regard to new hypotheses or analyses of existing data.

  • Working with Cornell's Albert R. Mann Library, procedures are being developed to preserve and disseminate the existing language acquisition data from the CLAL through a "Library of Words of the World's Children."

  • Courses are regularly given at Cornell to teach interdisciplinary students about language acquisition. These courses incorporate the materials and research of the CLAL.
  • A "hands-on" lab course is given regularly at Cornell, introducing students at Cornell to realities and methods of empirical research in the area of language acquisition.

  • Currently, members of the CLAL are working to create the Virtual Center for Language Acquisition and the materials of a Virtual Linguistics Lab connected with it.