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Language, Literacy and Psycholinguistics

Unit(s) of assessment: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Research theme: Sustainable Futures

School: School of Social Sciences


The Language, Literacy, and Psycholinguistics Research Group produces transformative research focused on both skilled and developing performance in spoken language, reading, writing, spelling, audition, and sentence processing. We investigate both typical and atypical populations (e.g. dyslexia, specific language impairment, autism, cochlear implant users) to better understand the underlying mechanisms involved in language processing and related areas (e.g. statistical learning, cognition) and how best to alleviate any difficulties in relation to them. In addition to standard methodologies, our work also benefits from a range of technologies such as eye-tracking, handwriting fluency capture, and computational modelling. We have several cross-disciplinary collaborations with other members of the Department, other Research Centres, and national and international researchers. We have been funded by numerous awarding bodies (e.g., The Leverhulme Trust, Education Endowment Foundation, British Academy), work with key stakeholders (e.g., National Literacy Trust, NHS, Norwegian National Reading Centre), and have widely published our work (e.g., Developmental Science, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research).


Prof Caroline Rowland, Max Planck, Nijmegen, Language acquisition

Prof Bill Macken, Cardiff University, Memory and language

Universidade Catolica Portuguesa (Portugal) and Ramon Llull (Spain) – International PhD in Applied Psychology

Prof Kristen McMaster, University of Minnesota

Prof Doug Fuchs, Vanderbilt University

Dr Helen Breadmore, Coventry University

Prof Rob Savage, UCL. Evaluation of a Yr1 Reading Programme 
Dr Jessie Ricketts, Royal Holloway. Reading and Vocabulary Project 
Dr Laura Shapiro, Aston University, Reading and Vocabulary Project 
Dr Georgia Niolaki, Coventry University, New Spelling test 
Dr Michelle Ellefson, Cambridge University, The role of Word Knowledge in reading Irregular words 
Emily Best, National Literacy Trust, Evaluation of a Yr1 Reading Programme 
Dr Kerry Bell, York Trials Unit, York University, Evaluation of a Yr1 Reading Programme

Prof David Torgeson, York Trials Unit, York University, Evaluation of a Yr1 Reading Programme

Prof Carol Torgeson, York Trials Unit, York University, Evaluation of a Yr1 Reading Programme

Norwegian National Reading Centre, University of Stavanger

Applied Linguistics and Technology, Department of Linguistics, Iowa State University

Educational Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of León, Spain

Dr Nenagh Kemp, University of Tasmania

Dr Jenny Thompson, Sheffield University

Dr Helen Breadmore, Coventry University

Dr Carlo Tramontano, Coventry University

Prof Lesly Wade-Woolley, University of Edmonton, Canada

Christina Clark, National Literacy Trust

Prof Michael Thomas, Birkbeck

Prof Chris Jarrold, Bristol

Prof Emily Farran, Surrey

Dr Jo Van Herwegen, UCL

Prof Gaia Scerif, Oxford

Prof Luuk Van Waes, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Prof Guido Nottbusch, University of Potsdam, Germany

Dr Evgeny Chukharev Hudilainen, Iowa State University, US

Dr Vibeke Rønneberg, University of Stavanger, Norway

Prof Per Henning Uppstad, University of Stavanger, Norway

Prof Wenke Rogne, University College, Volda, Norway

Dr Raquel Fidalgo, University of Leon, Spain

Prof Anne Castles, Macquarie University, Australia.


Recent publications by members of the research group include:

    Cunningham, A. J., Burgess, A. P., Witton, C., Talcott, J. B., & Shapiro, L. R. (2020). Dynamic relationships between phonological memory and reading: A five year longitudinal study from age 4 to 9. Developmental Science, 24, e12986.

    Jones, G., Cabiddu, F., Andrews, M., & Rowland, C. R. (2021). Chunks of phonological knowledge play a significant role in children’s word learning and explain effects of neighborhood size, phonotactic probability, word frequency and word length. Journal of Memory and Language, 119, 104232.

    Purser, H. R. M., Van Herwegen, J., & Thomas, M. S. C. (2020). The development of children’s comprehension and appreciation of riddles. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 189, 104709.

    Roeser, J., Torrance, M., & Baguley, T. (2019). Advance planning in written and spoken sentence production. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45, 1983–2009.

    Torrance, M., Arrimada, M. & Gardner, S. (2020). Child‐level factors affecting rate of learning to write in first grade. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 714-734.

    Vardy, E., Upton, P., & Upton, D. (2020). Development of SITU: a survey to measure the impact of outreach activities. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 22, 162-183.

    Vousden, J. I., Cunningham, A. J., Johnson H., Waldron S., Ammi S., Pillinger,  C., Savage, R., & Wood, C.  (in press) The impact of a small-group reading programme on English national literacy assessments in seven year-olds: Which skills mediate the link? British Journal of Educational Psychology.

    Williams, G., J., Larkin, R. L., Coyne-Unfreville, E., Herbert, T. C. (2019). The effects of planning and handwriting style on quantity measures in secondary school children’s writing, Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 1143.

    Wonnacott, E., Brown, H., & Nation, K. (2017). Skewing the evidence: the effect of input structure on child and adult learning of lexically based patterns in an artificial language. Journal of Memory and Language, 95, 36-48.

    Wood, C., Clark, C., Teravainen-Goff, A., Rudkin, G., & Vardy, E. (2020). Exploring the literacy related behaviours and feelings of pupils eligible for free school meals in relation to their use of, and access to, school libraries. School Library Research, 23.


  • SMI RED 500 eye tracker
  • Gazepoint portable eye tracker x 2
  • SR Research EyeLink 1000
  • Developmental observation lab