Back to listing

Public Lecture: Learning a first language, Evan Kidd, 9 Feb

Evan Kidd, Learning, Processing, University of Queensland

Date: 4 January 2017

Public Lecture: Learning a first language

Speaker: Associate Professor Evan Kidd

Venue: Auditorium, Advanced Engineering Building, University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus

Date: 9 Feb 2017

Time: 4.30-5.30pm, followed by reception

RSVP (limited seating) 


Language is one the crowning cognitive achievements of our species. With seemingly little effort, children acquire and master the subtleties of complex facets of language like phonology, grammar, and meaning. In comparison, as adults most of us find it difficult to learn a second language, despite our mature memory and learning systems. For many years child language researchers argued that, because first language acquisition appears so effortless, children must come to the language learning problem with significant innate knowledge of language. As a result, less effort was channelled into investigating how much of language is learnable, and how. In my talk I will reframe the language acquisition process as one that involves significant learning, which starts remarkably early in the womb. In particular, I will show that children are highly skilled at detecting linguistic regularities in their environment, and that properties of interaction create socio‐cognitive ecologies ripe for language learning.


Evan Kidd is an Associate Professor in the Research School of Psychology at The Australian National University, and is a CI in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. He completed his PhD in Psycholinguistics at La Trobe University, and has held academic positions at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, The University of Manchester, and La Trobe University. His research concentrates on language acquisition and language processing across different languages and in different populations.


  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University