No other animals use language. It is integral to humans, and has enabled us to create complex civilizations, technology, and culture.

Help Support Language Sciences

From investigating children’s development of language, to examining dyslexia and recovery from stroke, to helping the revitalization and maintenance of Indigenous languages, to modelling the human vocal tract, our members’ research helps improve lives, and inform society.

The Language Sciences Institute was established in 2015, generously supported by long-time Vancouver educator and language and literacy advocate Marietta Hurst, who provided additional seed funding in 2018.

From 2016 to 2022, the Institute received funding through UBC's Excellence Funds as a Research Excellence Cluster. In 2021, Language Sciences was established as a Global Research Excellence Institute. 

Meet the members of the Institute


We aim to connect scholars, teachers, and researchers working in all areas of the language sciences, to create collaborations that produce and support innovative research.

Our members span fields, disciplines, faculties, and institutions. Projects funded by Language Sciences have explored promoting multilingual literacy for young Canadians through online storybooks, the effects of vibrating devices on speech intelligibility, how opera training may sculpt our brains, how language might affect patient well-being, and much more.

The Language Sciences Institute strives to communicate our members’ work to many audiences: researchers, students, institutions, communities, and the general public.

Read more about our members' research


Language Sciences offers an interdisciplinary course, Living Language: Science and Society, which examines the power of language.

Cross-listed in six faculties, the course introduces students to the building blocks of language, encourages them to examine how language has informed their field of study, and to apply what they learn outside the classroom, including in the workforce. The inaugural course in Winter 2018 featured UBC President Santa Ono, and Language Sciences founding donor Marietta Hurst, as guest lecturers.

Currently open to undergraduate students in their final year of study, the Initiative intends to offer this course in the community in future.

Read more about courses and opportunities for students

First Nations land acknowledegement

We acknowledge that UBC’s campuses are situated within the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, and in the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and their peoples.

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