Language Learning and Acquisition

The Role of Consonants, Vowels and Tones in Early Lexical Acquisition

  • PI: Professor Cheung Hin Tat
  • ANR/RGC Joint Research Scheme

The present project will explore infants’ relative sensitivity to and use of consonants, vowels and tones in Cantonese and French environments. Data from French and Cantonese toddlers between 14 to 30 months will be collected from Paris and Hong Kong respectively. Eye-tracking experimental tasks will be designed for investigating these toddlers’ use of consonant, vowel and tone contrasts in learning new words, and how non-relevant tone variation may interfere with the word acquisition process, with parallel experimental design and stimulus in both sites. With the experimental data, the role of linguistic input, its interaction with the innate perceptual capacity for lexical acquisition and its course of development will then be systematically investigated.


Narrative Development in School-age South Asian Children in Hong Kong

  • PI: Professor Cheung Hin Tat
  • General Research Fund, University Grants Committee

This study will examine the development of Cantonese narrative in ethnic minority children of Hong Kong with special focus on three sub-groups, namely, Indian, Pakistani, and Nepalese, who are commonly called South Asians. A narrative is a main mode of human thought in which human actions and intentions are interpreted and organized with internal consistency and social value. It is also an important tool for socialization, and transmission of cultural knowledge. A study of narrative of South Asian children can provide evidence and clues to the development of an effective Chinese-language education programne for these ethnic minority children.

Effects of phonological rule-based and acoustic perceptual-based instructions on the prosodic acquisition of English Word Stress by Chinese ESL learners

  • PI: Dr Chen Hsueh Chu
  • General Research Fund, University Grants Committee

The project will develop assessment tasks to identify Chinese learners’ difficulties in English word stress placement in perception and production, design training programs to examine whether word stress can be acquired systematically, and conduct a teaching experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of the training programs in facilitating the learning of word stress. The project will generate substantial impact in both theory and practice. Theoretically, factors that weigh most heavily on learners’ acquisition of word stress will be identified, new empirical evidence to the debate on the learnability and teachability of word stress will be collected, and a new research paradigm of word stress learning will be created.