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Psycholinguistics and Computational Linguistics Internships and Independent Studies
Internships in first and second language acquisition may be full-time or half-time, and have a minimum duration of 8 weeks. Internships are most common during the summer but can also be taken throughout the year. A minimum time commitment of 15 hours/week is required during the summer and 10 hours/week during the semester. The current projects are shown elsewhere on this site. Click there for more information. To explore children’s syntactic development we:
- record, transcribe, and analyze natural speech between children and their parents;
- ask children to imitate different sentences and actions;
- examine comprehension of different types of sentences;
- ask children and adults from different language backgrounds to repeat sentences and describe pictures.
To explore adults second language learners’ development we use similar methods, but also measure judgments of grammaticality and performance in a Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) task. To compare two-year-olds and native speakers, we employ a variety of techniques. We are also interested in modeling acquisition of categories and rules.
Interns participate fully and receive training in the various facets of the work: testing and audiotaping children and adults; transcribing children’s and adults’ speech into a computer; calculating the average length of the children’s and adults’ utterances; developing test materials; scoring data. In addition, interns attend laboratory meetings in which we discuss the theoretical background of the research, methodological and ethical principles of research, and specific solutions to problems that arise in the course of the studies. Supervision and training are provided by Dr. Valian.
Since the project requires constant contact with parents, caregivers, children, and a diverse group of adults, it is essential that interns be personally mature, able to understand and accommodate the concerns and needs of children and adults, and work well with children, their parents, and other adults. In addition, since the research requires coordination of many different activities, interns must be highly organized and reliable. Finally, transcription of speech requires patience and perfectionism.
Assistants on the projects at LARC:
- Record, transcribe, and analyze child and adult learners’ spontaneous speech
- Develop materials for use in production and comprehension tasks
- Perform studies with child and adult participants
- Analyze spontaneous speech data and experimental data
- Recruit child and adult participants
- Supervise students and interns working on the projects
- Keep the laboratory running smoothly
- We accept applications from students currently in college, as well as those who have already received their BA or are pursuing other degrees.
- Preferred languages in addition to native-like fluency in English: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese
- Preferred major: psychology, cognitive science, or linguistics
- Preferred coursework: cognitive psychology, experimental psychology, statistics, developmental psychology, basic syntax, cognitive science, language acquisition
- Preferred research experience: previous laboratory research, if possible including transcribing speech; work with two-year-olds
- Preferred computer skills: basic word-processing skills, database management, graph and slide presentation, modeling, website maintenance, ability to program in E-prime or similar experimental design packages
- Preferred computational skills: knowledge of Python or other programming languages
- Preferred statistical skills: knowledge of Excel and other computer packages such as SPSS
- Preferred other skills: videotaping and incorporation of videos into slides and other formats
Review of candidates will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. Please submit by e-mail:
- A cover letter addressing why you are interested in the position, and your qualifications
- A resumé or CV (please include computer and research skills)
- A copy of your SAT or GRE scores (unofficial is acceptable)
- A transcript (unofficial is acceptable), with relevant courses and grades highlighted, if possible
- The name of one instructor who will send a recommendation letter that addresses your research skills or promise (ask the recommender to e-mail the letter directly to us)
- The anticipated length of time and start date for which you will be available
When sending in the above documents please name the attachments clearly and appropriately (For example “John Smith- resume.docx” and “John Smith – transcript.pdf”).
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Successful interns have included high school juniors, rising sophomore college students, and upper-level college students. The main requirements are an interest in language learning, maturity, and organization.
Independent Studies are also available. Contact the lab for more information.
Research Assistant Positions
There are no Research Assistant positions available at this time, only Internships and Independent Studies.