Early conversations and word learning: contributions from child and adult.

Bloom, Lois; Margulis, Cheryl; Tinker, Erin; Fujita, Naomi

Temporal and topic contingencies between child and mother speech are reported at 2 achievements in language development in the second year. Measured against their respective baseline rates of speech, children were most likely to talk before mother speech and mothers most likely to talk after child speech. This pattern, evident at both language achievements, increased in amplitude with development. These early conversations were generated by the children; neither their interactions nor word learning depended on adult-scaffolded formats. Only about one-third of all child speech occurred in response to something mothers said; only half of all child speech received a topic-related response. When mothers responded, they most often simply acknowledged, repeated, or clarified what the child said. The results supported the intentionality model for language development, in which the child's role is primary: Children learn words for expression and interpretation in order to share contents of mind, bringing words to their conversations that they've already learned in other contexts.


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Human Development
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November 4, 2016