Parents as Research Partners

For the scientific project LeibnizDream we are looking for enthusiastic parents who are willing to help their children participate in our online studies. Participants will be compensated every time they take part in a study.

Mother with two children sitting in front of a laptop

How do children actually learn to speak?

Have you ever asked yourself how children actually manage to learn as complex a system as language in such a short time? Linguists, too, continue to be amazed by this!

To better understand how children put their thoughts into words and how this process works in different languages, we have made it our mission to study language acquisition in more than 50 child languages across the world.

What will happen during the online study?

In our online studies we use simple, fun computer games that are designed in a way that is appropriate for children. As a parent, you will play an active role in this: you will help your child to navigate on the website and to communicate with our staff via voice or video call.

Why should my child participate?

The findings of our research can help improve language diagnosis tools and develop remedial programs to address issues with children’s language development.

By letting your child participate in one or several of our studies, you can help us better understand the way children around the world learn to speak. You will, therefore, be making an important contribution to science! If you would like, your child will receive a certificate of participation in a scientific study.

How can my child participate?

We are currently conducting linguistic studies with German- or Italian-speaking children between 2-5 years of age. If you and your child would like to participate, please enter your name and e-mail address into one of our contact forms:

    • If your child’s family language is German, please use the contact form linked here.
    • If your child’s family language is Italian, please use the contact form linked here.

Once you have entered your contact info, you will be informed via e-mail as soon as we are launching a new study. Every time you receive an invitation you can decide whether you and your child would like to participate. You will be compensated for each time you and your child take part in a study. Some studies require a touchscreen device (e.g. laptop, tablet, perhaps also smartphone) that your child can operate.


The LeibnizDream project is a joint project of the Leibniz-Centre General Linguistics (ZAS), the Humboldt University of Berlin, and the University of Milan-Bicocca. The project is inspired by the German polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. He was convinced that human language is the key to understanding the human mind. With the LeibnizDream project, our goal is to realize Leibniz’s dream and to prove that our thoughts determine language. 

We predict that child languages are a better mirror of the human mind than adult languages. To better understand how children put their thoughts into words and how this process works in different languages, we have made it our mission to study language acquisition in more than 50 child languages across the world.

Being the first open, global research collaboration to conduct language acquisition studies, the LeibnizDream project aims at building a new model of language. 

For its ambitious goals and the contribution to the study of language acquisition in infancy and adulthood, the LeibnizDream project has been selected for funding by the European Research Council (ERC).

Taking part in an online study usually takes about 40 minutes (20 minutes for the experiment, 20 minutes for instructions and possible questions). 

No child has to take part in the study against their own will. That is why every child is asked before an examination whether they really want to take part. This will happen in a way that is appropriate for children. As a parent, you are free to stop the examination as soon as you get the impression that your child would like to stop. 

After filling out the contact form, you will receive an invitation every time we launch a new study. During the study, one of our colleagues will be there to walk you through the experiment via voice or video call. 

Our experiments are designed by renowned scientists who are experienced in doing research with children. The head of the project is Uli Sauerland, head of the research area “Semantics&Pragmatics” at the Leibniz Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS).

The experiments are usually conducted by one of our student employees, which have been selected for their suitability and instructed to do online research with children by Dr. Sauerland. The experiments will be conducted in a relaxed, playful atmosphere free of pressure. We want the children to feel comfortable and encouraged to express themselves freely. 

Your child will be taking part in online experiments on language acquisition. 

As a parent, you will be asked to confirm with your signature that a) you have been informed about the study, b) you agree to having your child included in the study, and c) you agree to the processing of your child’s data. 

Every time your child participates in one of our studies, they will be attributed a secret code. We do not record names or other information that could be used to identify your child. In this way, your child’s performance during the experiment will be recorded anonymously. 

During data analysis and processing, your child remains anonymous. Our employees do not have access to personalized or otherwise sensitive data. 

Only the general results of the whole sample of participants will be disseminated to the global scientific community.

Your question is not listed? Our lab manager Emilia Strom will be happy to answer any further questions. You can reach her via e-mail at