Jill de Villiers, Ph.D

Dr. Jill de Villiers graduated with a B.S. in psychology from Reading University in England. She then earned a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Harvard University. Dr. de Villiers is a chaired professor at Smith College in Psychology and Philosophy. She has written extensively about language acquisition and has given international presentations on the topic. Among her many publications, Dr. de Villiers has co-authored 4 textbooks, produced two educational films, and has been an author of over 100 book chapters and research papers. Her recent work has included extensive research on Theory of Mind and its relation to language development. With her collaborators Harry Seymour and Tom Roeper, she developed language assessment test, the DELV NR (and CR and ST) for assessing children from language backgrounds, such as African American English. Dr de Villiers has worked for several years with Mary Wilson of Laureate Learning systems to design and improve language learning software for helping children who have language difficulties such as specific language impairment, autism, and other disabling conditions. A recent project focused on designing software for teaching Wh-question comprehension and language related to the mind, with an application for children with autism and delays due to deafness. Dr. de Villiers has given multiple seminars and workshops through the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association to speech-language pathologists and educators on the topic of grammar acquisition, including such topics as “What every five year old needs to know” and “Twenty Questions”. She has also been involved in helping legitimize the study of acquisition of less-studied languages and in assisting scholars who are native speakers of those languages.