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Phone number: +44 (0)1223 767394


Dr Elaine Schmidt

Teaching Bye-Fellow, Acting Director of Studies in Linguistics (Academic year 2019-2020)
Research Associate

Elaine Schmidt's work centres around how people process language(s) in their brain, and how children acquire one or more languages.

Academic interests

Elaine Schmidt's research interests include:

  • Language processing
  • Language acquisition
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Neurolinguistics
  • Phonetics and phonology
  • Prosody
  • Bilingualism.

Degrees obtained

  • MPhil, Cantab.
  • PhD, Cantab.

Awards and prizes

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Block Grant for Overseas Study Visit, award for data collection in Spain, 2011.
  • AHRC EU student fee award for PhD Cambridge Home and EU Scholarship Scheme maintenance award for PhD, 2010-2014.
  • AHRC EU student fee award for MPhil course, 2009-2010.
  • Cambridge European Trust stipend for MPhil course.


Elaine Schmidt’s research focuses on language acquisition and processing using EEG, eye tracking, and behavioural measurements. During her PhD, which was supervised by Dr Brechtje Post, she examined how bilingual children between the ages of two to six acquire the prosody of their two languages.

Subsequently she went on to do a Postdoc in the Child Language Lab at Macquarie University with Distinguished Professor Katherine Demuth, and became an Associate Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders in Sydney, Australia. Here, she used EEG and eye tracking experiments to explore the processing of speech, specifically the interface of prosody and sentence processing in adults and children.

Her research has taken her from Cambridge to Madrid - where she collected part of her PhD data - to Sydney, Australia, where she worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for two years (and learned how to surf). She is now back in Cambridge to set up an EEG and concurrent eye tracking lab in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, and to continue her work on speech processing. 

Other interests

Elaine is a keen squash player, occasionally hits the odd tennis ball, and generally enjoys any form of exercise, as well as good books.

Publications, links and resources

Schmidt, E., Kung, C., Post, B., Yuen, I., and Demuth, K. (2016) L1 experience shapes the perception of intonational contours. Proc. Speech Prosody 2016, pp 242-246.

Yuen, I., Xu, N., Schmidt, E., Holt, R., and Demuth, K. (submitted) Children’s use of boundary related duration and F0 cues to disambiguate compounds vs. lists. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research.

Holt, R., Kung, C., Schmidt, E., and Demuth, K. (submitted). Neural responses to morphosyntactic violations in foreign-accented speech. Speech Science and Technology (SST), Australia.

Yuen, I., Xu, N., Schmidt, E., Holt, R. and Demuth, K. (submitted) Accentual lengthening in 5 year old AusE-speaking children. Speech Science and Technology (SST), Australia.

Galaczi, E., Post, B., Li, A., Barker, E. and Schmidt, E., (in print) L2 pronunciation: Distinguishing features of rhythm in learner speech at different proficiency levels. In Isaacs & Trofimovich (eds.) Interfaces in second language pronunciation assessment.   

Schmidt, E., and Post, B. (2015). The Development of Prosodic Features and their Contribution to Rhythm Production in Simultaneous Bilinguals. Language and speech, 58(1), pp 24-47. 

Schmidt, E., and Post, B. (2015). Language interaction in the development of speech rhythm in simultaneous bilinguals. In: E. Delais-Roussarie, M. Avanzi, and S. Herment, eds, Prosody, Language in Contact and L2 Acquisition. Springer publication.

Schmidt, E., Post, B., Kung, C., Yuen, I., and Demuth, K. (2015). The effect of listener and speaker gender on the perception of rises in AusE. In: J. Stuart-Smith, J. Scobbie, J., and A. Turk, eds, Proceedings from the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (pp. Paper 0518). Glasgow: University of Glasgow. 

Barker, F., Post, B., Schmidt, E., and McCarthy, M. (2012). Identifying criterial aspects of pronunciation in L2 English across CEFR levels: Implications for language learning. In: J. Angouri, M. Daller, and J. Treffers-Daller, eds, The Impact of Applied Linguistics - Proceedings of the 44th Annual Meeting of BAAL (pp. 17-22). Bristol: University of the West of England.

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