It was in Kindergarden when I first heard that people in China spoke Chinese. "Even the children?" I asked the teacher. That evening, I told my father I was worried: "Papa, these poor children, they have to think in Spanish but need to learn to speak Chinese to talk to their families." I have been working on the questions of language and thought, and what is the effect of bilingualism in children, ever since. My interest in these questions has not faded, so I spend most of my research time working on experiments on language acquisition, in various collaboration with colleagues and students here in Toronto, and other places in the world.
My research on language acquisition is concerned with two goals. One is to understand how children learn the syntax and semantics of the smallest and the silent parts of the grammar. We have conducted experiments on children's interpretation and use of determiners, number, tense, mood and aspect, object clitics and implicit arguments. More recently, I want to understand what is syntactic complexity, what is the role of recursion in it, and how it grows in children’s language.
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