St John's College Oxford
Dr Yaling Hsiao

Dr Yaling Hsiao

Stipendiary Lecturer in Psychology


I did my undergraduate study in English (linguistics, literature and teaching) in Taiwan. I then went to the US for my degree in Education at Harvard University and then to University of Wisconsin-Madison for my doctoral degree in Psychology working with Prof. Maryellen MacDonald on language processing. I came to Oxford for my postdoctoral research on children’s reading, working with Prof. Kate Nation. 

I was very lucky to be exposed to a variety of subject matters during my undergraduate study, especially linguistics and language teaching. I decided to pursue a field of study that combined the two, about how humans learn language. During my master’s, I studied educational neuroscience and worked with many prominent cognitive and developmental psychologists. The experience led me to pursue a research career in psychology of language.  

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship

Chiang Ching Kuo Dissertation Fellowship

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in language and cognition. I am currently working on the projects that study how children learn to read. Using a large-scale children’s corpus, I examine the statistical properties of children’s linguistic input and output. These statistics are then related to children’s language processing performance in the laboratory. The aim is to identify factors emergent in the linguistic environment that influence children’s success in reading. I have also been studying the roles of language experience and working memory in how humans process complex syntactic structures, using behavioural techniques and neural network modelling.


Hsiao, Y. & Nation, K. (2018). Semantic Diversity, Frequency and the Development of Lexical Quality in Children’s Word. Journal of Memory and Language, 103, 114-126.

MacDonald, M. C. & Hsiao, Y. (2018). Sentence Comprehension. In S-A. Rueschemeyer & M. G. Gaskell (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics (pp.171–196). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Hsiao, Y. & MacDonald, M. C. (2016). Production predicts comprehension: Animacy effects in Mandarin relative clause processing, Journal of Memory and Language, 89, 87-109.

Hsiao, Y., Gao, Y. & MacDonald, M. C. (2014). Agent-patient similarity affects sentence structure in language production: evidence from subject omissions in Mandarin. Frontiers in Psychology, 5:1015.

Hsiao, Y. & MacDonald, M. C. (2013). Experience and generalization in a connectionist model of Mandarin Chinese relative clause processing. Frontiers in Psychology, 4:767.