Psychologist helps develop language development tool for bilingual children

A Kent Psychologist has played an important role in a research breakthrough in the assessment of language development for bilingual two-year-olds.

In a study, led by the University of Plymouth, Kent’s Dr Kirsten Abbot-Smith and academics from eight other UK universities demonstrated for the first time that typically-developing bilingual two-year-olds, who are learning a language which has similar sounds and structures to English, know more words than those who are learning a language which is very different to English.

This information allowed the researchers to develop the first toolkit for health professionals to accurately assess how well bilingual pre-school children are learning language.

Read more at the News Centre page.

Kirsten Abbot-Smith wins best article award

Many congratulations to Dr Allegra Cattani (Plymouth University) and Dr Kirsten Abbot-Smith, who were presented with an award from the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders for best research article of the year today. The award is for a paper entitled ‘How much exposure to English is necessary for a bilingual toddler to perform like a monolingual peer in language tests?’, on which they were senior authors. Their article was praised for combining clinical impact with theoretical interest and an excellent statistical analysis.

Full article reference:
Cattani, A., Abbot-Smith,. K., Farag, R., Krott, A., Arreckx, F., Dennis, I. & Floccia, C. (2014). How much exposure to English is necessary for a bilingual toddler to perform like a monolingual peer in language tests? International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 49(6), 649-671. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12082

Social butterflies and busy bees: Your child’s social psychology

Congratulations to Dr Lindsey Cameron, Dr Kirsten Abbot-Smith and Dr Erika Nurmsoo, who have been awarded £620 by the ESRC for a project entitled “Social butterflies and busy bees: Your child’s social psychology”. This is a public engagement award secured on behalf of the Kent Child Development Unit to hold an event in Universities Week as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2014.

Play and learn event for toddlers and parents

University of Kent psychologists are hosting a play and learn event for toddlers in Canterbury next month.

Members of the Kent Child Development Unit will host the fun event, which is linked to research into the way young children see the world, on 12 June at the city’s St. Stephen’s Church Hall. They will be providing soft-play facilities for children and refreshments for adults. The event is free and all parents and children are welcome to attend.

As part of the event, the team will be running a series of demonstrations that will allow parents to learn more about their child’s development. This will include demonstrating specialist equipment that can record the eye-movements of babies and toddlers aged six months and above, which shows precisely where they are looking on a computer screen.

These techniques will help the University researchers explore children’s understanding of themselves and their social world, which will help inform greater understanding of conditions such as autism.

Dr David Kelly, Research Associate in the School of Psychology, said: ‘This promises to be a fun event that will provide an opportunity for us to learn more about what is typical development for a particular age-range.’

View event flyer