Current Research & Projects

  •  Typical and Atypical Language Development in Children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds
Doctoral student conducting language assessment
Doctoral student conducting language assessment

Research in the ChiLDlanguage lab aims to understand patterns of typical and atypical language development in children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds and, in turn, to identify appropriate language assessment approaches for this population. As assessing CLD children is a known challenge in speech-language pathology, we strive to share our findings with researchers, clinicians and families to support evidence-based assessment and therapy practices.

Current projects investigate grammatical development and cross-language interactions in bilingual children using a variety of research methods, including behavioral language and cognitive measures, as well as eye tracking. Research goals include characterizing profiles of typical language development and language impairment in bilingual children through the lens of each language separately and both languages holistically.


  • Community-based Preschool Project
Stock Preschool Photo #12
Research assistant leading literacy

Our Integrative Preschool Project is a partnership between the Child Language Development, Disorders, and Disparities Lab (ChiLD3) at SDSU, Price Family Philanthropies, and the City Heights Educational Collaborative. The program began in 2010 to provide focused Language Intervention for children who are at a higher risk for having academic difficulty. Research shows that a child’s early language and literacy skills affect their academic success, and preschool programs that emphasize language stimulation techniques and incorporate speech language pathologists have been shown to improve the language abilities of at-risk children (Justice, Mashburn, Pence & Wiggins, 2008).

Children and research assistant engaging in dramatic play
Children engaging in dramatic play

ChiLD3  Lab research assistants provide targeted language and literacy interventions within the preschool classrooms using a language-focused curriculum model. We demonstrate that through experiences, children develop new language – linguistically, cognitively, and socially.

Research assistants leading an educational workshop
Research assistants leading an educational workshop

The project is a successful model of a collaborative and participatory approach to research where researchers partner with the community to produce knowledge that solves real world problems. The benefits are far-reaching and our findings are shared locally, nationally, and internationally. This community collaboration helps prepare students to make lifetime contributions to the field and the greater San Diego community as practicing clinicians and child language researchers.

The ChiLD3  Lab research assistants also provide 30-45 minute educational workshops for preschool families that address the topics of: early language developmental milestones, early literacy, language and play, and language strategies for everyday living. The audience receives a quick reference handout summarizing the information as well as engages in discussions and demonstrations throughout the presentation.


  • Morphology-Phonology Interface 
Research assistant transcribing language samples
Research assistant transcribing language samples

Across populations of children, including those that are acquiring different dialects of English and those that are bilingual, we are evaluating the impact of phonological complexity on the over marking of grammatical morphemes as well as the impact of morphological complexity on production of subsyllabic constituent structure.

We are now beginning to use this knowledge to manipulate the complexity of treatment targets to identify the most efficacious targets. We aim to reveal the nature of interactions between sound and structure in language for children with different combinations of deficits. This will serve as the basis for future treatment studies that will allow children to benefit from treatment in less time than what has been show to date.