Welcome to the Baby Language Lab

This lab, started in Fall 2008, is dedicated to understanding how infants and toddlers two years old and under learn to speak their first language. With the older age groups, we are especially interested in what infants know about the properties of their language, such as which sounds belong together. With the younger ages, we look at what skills infants bring to the task of listening to the language, such as sensitivities to the melodic properties of language, and how these skills influence their ability to learn their first language. Most of our research involves perceptual studies of infants. In these studies, we play sounds and video for infants. By measuring their interest in what they are seeing and hearing, we can learn about what they understand and perceive about the world around them. We also collect recordings of language that infants hear in different environments and analyze different characteristics of those language environments.

We are always looking for volunteers (babies and their parents or guardians) to come into our lab and participate in our studies. A typical visit takes less than 30 minutes, and you will receive a small gift from us for participating, as well as parking or bus fare reimbursement, and an enjoyable experience in our lab. Sometimes we will do an assessment of your child’s development called the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development. This takes about an hour. For other studies, we may do a comprehensive assessment of the languages your child hears, which takes about 30 minutes.

Please contact us to learn more. We hope to see you soon!

Lab News

This year we celebrate a number of accomplishments from our students:

  • Karmen McDivitt on receiving a placement with the University of Manitoba Clinical Internship, Megan Gornik on her acceptance to University of Manitoba’s Clinical Psychology Masters program, and Sarah MacEwan on her acceptance to the University of British Colombia’s Masters of Audiology program.
  • Karmen McDivitt on successfully defending her PhD dissertation proposal.

Older News in the Lab:

  • Brenna Henrikson on completing her Masters degree.
  • Kelsey Klassen, Mercedes Casar and Roman Belenya on earning their Linguistics/Psychology Undergraduate spring 2018.
  • Kelsey Klassen, Mercedes Casar, Roman Belenya and Kaitlyn Dyer on their acceptance to Masters Programs fall 2018.
  • Kathryn Rollins and Kaitlyn Dyer on receiving the Undergraduate Research Award.
  • Karmen McDivitt on receiving the JG Fletcher Award, University of Manitoba Emerging Leader Award, and the Canadian Psychological Association Certificate of Excellence for Outstanding Master’s Thesis.
  • In 2017 the Baby Language Lab, together with a number of collaborators, was awarded the prestigious Digging Into Data grant from the Trans-Atlantic Platform. This project (ACLEW) involves close to a dozen laboratories across 6 countries and is exploring similarities and differences in the language experiences of infants in different language and cultural environments.

Baby Language Lab in the News

  • The ManyBabies project that the lab is a part of was featured on CTV news in March 2020.
  • A segment on Megan Gornik’s honours thesis project aired on CTV news in December 2019. Her project investigated the development of social reasoning in infants under 10 months old.