Christopher Fennell

OLBI Faculty of Arts Chair in Language Learning and Acquisition


Babies learn languages at a fantastic rate, due in part to the implicit nature of early language acquisition (i.e., they do “overthink” language). Yet, relatively little is known about the learning processes involved in the early acquisition of sounds and words across two languages, as the overwhelming majority of relevant research has involved monolinguals. My research focuses on the issues surrounding early speech perception and word learning in infants raised in bilingual environments – a familiar phenomenon due to immigration, official language policies, and Canadian cultural preferences. As the OLBI Research Chair in Language Learning and Acquisition, I will be sharing and advancing knowledge of how bilingualism from birth unfurls across the lifespan. I will also be applying my focus on testing the basic perception/refinement of language sounds and the implicit learning of new words to adults learning a second language to examine if implicit learning similarly aids older populations.

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