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Language and Education

Language and Literacy in Schools

Language and literacy are at the heart of every subject in school.  Students must be able to understand and participate in classroom conversations as well as read and write about a wide range of subjects.  Yet, roughly two-thirds of American primary and secondary school students are unable to read and write at grade-level. A disproportionate number of those not performing at grade level are students from low-income, minority, English learning backgrounds, or are students with language and literacy related learning disabilities. Thus, it is imperative that educators, researchers, and policymakers focus on how to best support students in developing language and literacy across the lifespan.   

Language and Literacy Research Center 


The LLRC brings together researchers with expertise on a wide range of topics related to language and literacy, including early oral language development, reading and writing acquisition, bilingual language and literacy learning, language based learning, and curriculum and instruction in language and literacy to address issues of critical importance for children’s academic success. 

LLRC faculty come from departments across the College of Education (Human Development and Quantitative Methodology; Teaching, Learning, Policy, and Leadership; Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education), and from the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences

Second Language Acquisition

Young children are excellent language learners, but adults often struggle to learn a second language. Researchers in the Second Language Acquisition program, the Department of Psychology, and the Center for Advanced Study of Language, address questions such as: Why are some adults more successful language learners than others? How is learning a second language after early childhood different from young children's acquisition of their first language(s)? How do second language learners make use of their language knowledge in real-time conversation?

Research spotlight: Eric Pelzl on Mandarin Chinese


Eric Pelzl, an IGERT fellow studying Second Language Acquisition, spent the 2015 summer conducting research on the perception of tone and accent in Mandarin Chinese at Beijing Normal University. "As more and more Americans are now studying Mandarin Chinese, this kind of work, focusing on how tones are distinguished, is sure to lead to useful pedagogical insights."

Eric's work was funded by an award from NSF as part of their East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes.