Centre

Centre for Research in Language Development throughout the Lifespan (LaDeLi)

Part of Department of Language and Linguistics

Language is fundamental to our lives

We use it for thinking, communicating, learning and nearly everything else we do.

We are a team of internationally renowned researchers covering all aspects of language development throughout the lifespan. The broad range of the research undertaken by our members makes us uniquely interdisciplinary, merging theories and methodologies from linguistics, psychology, cognitive science, sociology and education. As the first centre in the UK to look at language throughout the lifespan, we seek to answer difficult questions:

  • how do we learn languages, and how do our languages change throughout our lives?
  • what is different about learning a second language compared to learning a first? And how do the different languages in our minds interact?
  • how do multiple languages shape our identity?
  • what if we stop using our first language regularly or we suffer trauma? Can we lose our first language?

Our Centre

Our research areas

Our research looks at three key areas: early language development, language loss and impairment and second language learning and teaching.

Our research on early language development examines how children learn sounds, words and sentences in their first language, and how language(s) develop and influence each other in bilingual and multilingual children.

Development does not always mean learning – it can also mean forgetting. We study language loss and impairment, such as attrition of our first language, which may be brought about through lack of use, for example as a consequence of migration.

We are experts in research on second language learning and teaching. We look at how children, adolescents and adults acquire and develop a second or additional language beyond their first language and which factors influence such development. In addition, we look at how languages can best be taught, and what impacts on the success or otherwise of language instruction in the classroom.

Our resources for teachers and parents

Our Centre provides information and resources on bilingualism for parents, families, teachers, schools, language professionals and policy makers through the East of England branch of Bilingualism Matters. Set up in 2008, Bilingualism Matters is an international network of researchers, providing a wealth of information for individuals and organisations looking to further their understanding of bilingual language learning. 

We also host the Research in Primary Languages (RiPL) network for researchers, practising teachers, teacher educators and policy makers interested in the use and learning of languages in the primary-school classroom. Our founding member Professor Florence Myles manages this national network of researchers, helping to support and improve foreign language learning.

Our research activities

We organise and engage in a range of activities which contribute to the impact of our Centre. From articles in the press, hosting workshops for researchers and language practitioners, to one-off talks by invited leading expert speakers, our Centre is at the forefront of research into language development throughout the lifespan. To learn about the engaging work we are involved in, please read more about our research.

Two researchers talking over a laptop
World-class research supervision

The LaDeLi Centre is located in the Department of Language and Linguistics at the University of Essex. We are home to a vibrant community of staff and students, working at the cutting edge of language development research. Our range of Masters courses and many PhD students make this one of the most dynamic places in the country to study language development.

Learn more about expert research supervision
Students in interpreting lab
Join in our research

Do you want to get involved in our research? Join our participant database and help us to further our understanding of language development throughout the lifespan. We are always looking for new participants, whether you are a monolingual, bilingual or multilingual speaker or second language learner. You can even get paid!

Get in touch
Get in touch
Centre for Research in Language Development throughout the Lifespan (LaDeLi) University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 872083
Department of Language and Linguistics University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 872083