Jeannette Schaeffer investigates the acquisition of language by children (with and without language impairments) and, more recently, also by adults. By comparing language acquisition patterns of different languages and different target groups, her research contributes to the formation of language acquisition models as well as theoretical linguistic models. The common theme in her research concerns the role of the different language components (such as grammar, pragmatics) and of cognition in language acquisition, and how these interact. Such research allows us to uncover the crucial factors underlying language acquisition (impairments), enabling us to formulate, diagnose and treat language problems more precisely and specifically.
Currently, Schaeffer’s research focuses on the language development of children with autism and with specific language impairment. Besides behavioral-experimental methods, Schaeffer is also interested in electro-physiological techniques such as event related potentials (ERP), which she would like to apply in her research on language acquisition (impairments) in the near future. Furthermore, Schaeffer intends to expand her target groups with, for example, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and with Williams Syndrome.
Since 2011, Schaeffer has been affiliated to the University of Amsterdam as assistant professor of Linguistics at the Department of Dutch Language and Culture and as a researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for Language and Communication (ACLC). Before coming to Amsterdam, Schaeffer was associate professor of Linguistics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, and co-director of the Laboratory for Speech, Language Acquisition and Autism Research. She also frequently lectured and conducted research at institutions abroad, including the University of Vienna, Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Schaeffer is associate editor of the journal Language Acquisition.