Why are babies so good at learning languages? – Professor Caroline Floccia
  • Jill Craigie Cinema, Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth, PL4 8AA and online

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We are proud to present the Inaugural Professorial Lecture of Professor Caroline Floccia.

Babies, despite their vulnerability, become absolute experts in language within 2-3 years, a feat adults rarely achieve. How do babies think and perceive the world in such a way that this is possible? We know it is easier to learn a second language if it is linguistically close to our own – such as English and Dutch, rather than English and Arabic. Does this language distance support early bilingual development, when two languages grow simultaneously in a child’s mind? And have babies raised during lockdowns had their language development impacted by these unusual social circumstances?

Professor Caroline Floccia, Professor in Development Psychology, has dedicated her career to answering these fascinating questions to understand how babies and toddlers think and develop language skills. She set up Plymouth’s only Babylab in 2006, a dedicated research centre that provides a safe, friendly and playful environment that has welcomed over 10,000 families to participate in cutting-edge research.  

In this insightful lecture, Caroline reflects on her career journey where she built her extensive expertise in Brussels, Paris and Plymouth. She shares her latest findings, including data showing that UK-raised bilingual toddlers get a boost in their native language if it is close to English and how she proposes that bilingualism could be more effectively and accurately assessed.  

There will be opportunity at the end for Caroline to answer your questions in a live Q&A. 

You are welcome to join us for University of Plymouth's Inaugural Professorial Lecture series, which provide a milestone event in a professorial career. Through these we can promote and celebrate the academic reputation and achievements within their research.

Need-to-know
This event is open to the public and free to attend. This is a hybrid-delivery event, meaning there will be some limited, socially-distanced seating available for in-person attendance or alternatively you can participate in the event live using Zoom. Please register using the link above.

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Babylab

The University of Plymouth Babylab works to improve our understanding of how babies develop their amazing abilities, and the problems they might encounter along the way.
We study how infants learn language with simple methods such as tracking their eye movement and observing their responses to hearing language.

Would you like more information on this research, including how your family can participate in fun and friendly activities that help our scientists?

Visit our page for parents

Cognition Institute

An innovative interdisciplinary research environment, which brings together researchers from a broad range of disciplines toward the understanding of human cognition.

Our expertise includes cognitive psychology, neural sciences, medicine, social sciences, biology, robotics and computational neuroscience.

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The year-long programme of public events showcases our research across a spectrum of topics. It presents our annual Research Festival, the Inaugural Professorial Lecture series, the Public Research Lecture series, the new Christmas Research Lecture, and selected lectures featuring keynote speakers throughout the year.

All are welcome to join us as our academics open the door to the intriguing world of research, inviting you to learn more about the fascinating work taking place across the University.

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