This project employed a variant of CHREST known as MOSAIC to model how language is learnt by children. Areas that were looked at included:

Syntax acquisition

This research represents an attempt to model the child’s acquisition of syntactic categories. The basic assumptions are that (1) syntactic categories are actively constructed by the child using distributional learning abilities; and (2) cognitive constraints in learning rate and memory capacity limit these learning abilities. The aim of the project is to build a distributional learning mechanism that is not only capable of constructing grammatical categories, but also of doing so in a way that is consistent with recent findings in the developmental literature on the sequencing of grammatical category acquisition. So far, the model has successfully simulated phenomena in six languages(English, Dutch, German, Spanish, French and K’iche’).

Vocabulary acquisition

This research aims to model vocabulary acquisition in children. The central idea is to combine Gathercole and Baddeley’s (1989) concept of phonological store with the notion of chunking, thus offering mechanisms to explain how the phonological store interacts with long-term memory. The input to this model is from a large-scale naturalistic study of children’s early grammatical development, allowing the influence of the input to the model upon vocabulary acquisition to be examined.