Lancaster University Language and Literacy Unit

Welcome to Lancaster University's Language and Literacy Unit (LULLU)

LULLU is Lancaster University Language and Literacy Unit. We are a team of research scientists working to understand how language and literacy skills develop across childhood. A special focus of our work is reading and listening comprehension: how children understand what they are reading or listening to, and the language and memory skills that support comprehension and its development.

Two girls reading together

Reading and listening comprehension: What’s involved? Successful reading comprehenders go beyond the individual words and sentences on the page and construct a meaning-based representation of the state of affairs described in the text. This memory-based representation is commonly referred to as a mental model or a situation model.

To become a successful reading comprehender, children need good word reading skills, robust vocabulary knowledge, an understanding of the grammatical rules that govern their language, and the inference making and integrative and skills that enable them to make links between the different sentences in the text and with information in the text and their broader general knowledge, to ensure a complete and accurate understanding.

Our research examines the language and cognitive skills that foster reading (and also listening) comprehension development and why, for some, comprehension breaks down.

Our methods. We use a range of methods to understand why children (and adults) differ in their comprehension skills. We examine both the process of reading (what readers do as they are reading) and the product of reading (what readers have included in their mental model of the text’s meaning). Some of our studies follow children over several years, so that we can track patterns over time, for example as a child advances through school.

Two children enjoying a book together

Our research provides evidence-based insights into the skills and knowledge that underpin language and literacy development. We work with educational and healthcare professionals, and developers of high-quality literacy materials, to raise awareness and develop classroom and extra-curricular support to enhance children’s literacy outcomes.

We would like to say a special thanks to the people, groups, organisations and charities who have funded and supported our research.

This page links to external content, which is not managed or monitored by LULLU. We take no responsibility for the content on websites that can be accessed through this page.

More detail of some of our grants and the organisations we work with can be found here:


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