I am broadly interested in children’s early language and communicative development during the preschool and early school years. I situate my research within a usage-based framework, placing particular emphasis on the interaction between the child and their environment and the role of caregiver input in children’s developing linguistic representations. Recent projects have included investigations of early gestural communication, caregiver-child communicative interactions, the acquisition of grammatical constructions, understanding the origins of children’s grammatical errors, inflectional morphology, and the interface between syntax, semantics and pragmatics in the development of complex language. A number of recent studies have involved crosslinguistic comparisons in these areas of development. In my research I employ a variety of methodological approaches including corpus analysis and experiments utilising behavioural and online measures, and collaborate with computational modellers to allow multimethod approaches to a particular issue. In addition, some projects take place within real-world contexts, such as schools, nurseries and cultural institutions, and require a variety of data collection and analysis techniques.
If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in these or related areas, please contact me via email: anna.theakston at manchester.ac.uk.
Current PhD Students
Michelle Davis, Lindsey Jones, Katy Finch, Kirstie Hartwell, Nicola Lester, Leigh Evans, Sarah Breen