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Kate Messenger Research Profile

Job Title
Associate Professor
Research Interests

I am interested in people's, especially learners', ability to understand and produce sentences and how these abilities are acquired in monolingual and bilingual children. I am also interested in how individual differences in children and adults affect language processing and performance.

More recently I have begun research examining sentence processing and language learning from syntactic priming in second language learners, tying in my personal interests and experiences as a language learner with my research interests.


After completing my PhD at the University of Edinburgh, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois and University of Edinburgh before moving to Warwick to take up a lectureship.

Representative publications:

Coumel, M., Ushioda, E., & Messenger, K. in press. Second language learning via syntactic priming: Investigating the role of modality, attention and motivation. Language Learning

Messenger, K. (Ed., 2022). Syntactic priming in language acquisition: Representations, mechanisms and applications. Trends in Language Acquisition Research, 31, John Benjamins.

Messenger, K. (2021). The persistence of priming: Exploring long-lasting syntactic priming effects in children and adults. Cognitive Science, 45: e13005.

Messenger, K., & Fisher, C. (2018). Mistakes weren't made: Three-year-olds' comprehension of novel-verb passives provides evidence for early abstract syntax. Cognition, 178, 118-132.

Branigan, H. P., & Messenger, K. (2016). Consistent and cumulative effects of syntactic experience in children's sentence production: Evidence for error-based implicit learning. Cognition, 157, 250-256.

Messenger, K., Branigan, H.P., McLean, J.F. & Sorace, A. (2012). Is young children's passive syntax semantically constrained? Evidence from syntactic priming. Journal of Memory and Language, 66(4), 568?587.

Title Funder Award start Award end
The generality of expectation violation as a mechanism for language learning Full stage linked to 73584 Leverhulme Trust 01 Sep 2023 31 Aug 2026
Cross-linguistic influence and shared syntax in bilingual language development Leverhulme Trust 01 Sep 2020 14 Aug 2023
How does language experience support language development? Short-term priming and long-term learning ESRC 01 Aug 2018 28 Feb 2023
The role of incorrect predictions in children's comprehension of structural alternations British Academy 03 Aug 2020 31 Dec 2022
Syntactic priming as implicit learning: comparing second and first language speakers Leverhulme Trust 02 Oct 2017 02 Feb 2022
CoA: How does language experience support language development? Short-term priming and long-term learning; linked to Ideate 54679 UK Research and Innovation 01 Jun 2021 31 Aug 2021
Syntactic Priming in Children: Just Representations or Also Implicit Learning? Early Career Fellowship Leverhulme Trust 01 Oct 2013 31 Aug 2014