£1 million grant to shed light on how we learn languages

Over five years, the Research Leadership Award from the Leverhume Trust will allow experts to develop new, accurate ways of describing speakers’ linguistic knowledge, by using machine-learning techniques that mimic the way in which humans learn.  The patterns they find will be verified in laboratory settings and then tested on adult foreign language learners to see if such patterns can help them learn a foreign language in a way that resembles how they learned their mother tongue.
The aim is to lead a step-change in research on language and language learning by capturing the linguistic knowledge adult speakers build up when they are exposed to a language in natural settings. These insights will help with the development of strategic language teaching materials to transform the way in which we teach foreign languages.