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Key research directions

Language Cognition & Development

Cherishing the academic aspiration and the schooling notion of “cultivating talents conversant with Chinese and Western cultures, versed in classic and up-to-date knowledge, well-trained in the Arts along with the Sciences”, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Tsinghua University is endeavoring to break through the traditional pattern of teaching, research and construction of teaching teams. Among the eight research clusters in the department, three focus on language cognition and development:

Language, Psychology, and Cognition

This group adopts diverse approaches (from theoretical linguistic perspectives to behavioral and neuroimaging studies) to explore the nature of language, its development and use, with a focus on Mandarin Chinese and language development, literacy development and language disorder in the Chinese context. Some distinctive features of this group include expertise in psycholinguistics, language acquisition and development and formal linguistics, as well as "Center for the Study of Language and Psychology”, "Language Acquisition Lab" and "Child Cognition Lab”. Its work involves studies of Chinese syntax and semantics, syntactic disorder of Chinese aphasics, language development of normal and autistic children, early literacy in typically- and atypically-developing Chinese children. 

Linguistics, Education and Applied Sciences

By employing the theories of contemporary linguistics and education, the group researches on the teaching and application of languages, with a heavy touch on interdisciplinary and comprehensive studies. By means of combining theoretical research with education policies and everyday practice, it explores the acquisition, development and employment of language skills, and analyzes and evaluates the societal, cultural, political, and economical factors playing on language development and language education. The teaching of this group focuses on research and academics. Simultaneously, it pays attentions to the actual needs arising from students’ studies and researches, thus cultivating language talents with a global vision who are both innovative and collaborative, as well as talents of language education in a cross-cultural environment. Making use of the theoretical and research achievements of linguistics, sociology and psychology, it designs its curriculum following a comprehensive education of the Humanities, with a focus on the cultivation of the students’ capacity of language application, especially of bilingual and second language learning, of academic language acquisition, and of the socialization of language as well as its effectiveness.

Linguistics, Cultural Studies and Social Sciences

Setting discourse analysis and pragmatics as a generalizing field of studies, this group aims, in combination of the present research strength, to establish its distinctive feature of research as discourse and context studies. In terms of research methodology, it adopts both critical thinking and positivism, attaching equal importance to both written and spoken materials, both literarily and non-literarily, in both ontological and practical researches (including discourse structure, interpersonal interactive mode, intertextuality, gender, identity construct, critical discourse analysis and multimodal discourse analysis). It emphasizes the diversity of perspectives, which includes functional linguistics, pragmatics, stylistics, sociolinguistics, anthropology, and cognitive and cross-cultural studies. The group plans to apply for five to ten projects for pioneering subjects, including researches on foreign language education issues, textbooks, learners, comparative and contrastive studies of the Chinese and English language, studies in thinking modes and their differences, stylistics, cognitive poetics and literary translation studies, etc.


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