Learning through Processing

Learning through Processing research group

Spoken language is a rapid and transient signal, quickly fading as soon as it is produced. This presents a problem for the child language learner: in order to learn language children must process this ephemeral signal in the moment, but without specific knowledge of their native language this task appears hopelessly complex. We still know very little about how children's processing mechanisms develop, and we don't fully understand how processing constrains language development.

Our research group, led by Senior Investigator Evan Kidd, aims to bridge this knowledge gap. We want to understand the intimate relationship between in-the-moment on-line language processing and language acquisition, assuming that children’s input must be filtered through a dynamic parsing mechanism that analyses the input in order to learn from it.

A cross-linguistic perspective on language processing

The Learning through Processing group investigates the relationship between language processing and language acquisition, often from a cross-linguistic perspective, under the assumption that a more complete account of human language is constrained by the real-time pressure of language processing across the developmental history of the individual. Our explicit cross-linguistic focus takes seriously the wide range of typological diversity in the world’s 7,000 or so languages: while there are common problems shared by individuals learning different languages, each language is a puzzle that a speaker must uniquely solve.

This research group is part of the Language Development Department


Evan Kidd

Senior Investigator
Language Development Department
Evan [dot] Kidd [at] mpi [dot] nl
Grants & Awards

2016 - 2018: Discovering sources of individual differences in first language acquisition (Funding body: ARC, AUD$ 274,000) (Evan Kidd, Joanne Arciuli, Michael Smithson).

2016 - 2017: What lurks beneath: using electroencephalography (EEG) to study psychological processes in special populations (Funding body: ANU MEC grant, $70,000) (Evan Kidd, Michael Kyrios, Deborah Apthorp, Bruce Christensen).

2014 - 2021: ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (AUD$ 28 million)

What do we want to achieve with our research?

The Learning through Processing research group aims to:

•    Identify the learning/processing mechanisms underlying language acquisition.

•    Map how individual-level variation in processing skills relates to language acquisition across development.  

•    Understand how the child’s processing system, which is a universal capacity, supports the acquisition of typologically diverse languages.

To help us achieve these aims we use the latest equipment and various methodologies (e.g., EEG, eye-tracking, behavioural testing, corpus analyses, computational modelling).

In collaboration with our international partners, we also conduct research across typologically diverse languages (e.g., Cantonese, Dutch, English, Farsi, Finnish, German, Italian, Mandarin, Murrinhpatha, Qaqet, Spanish).


Share this page