Cognitive Science Lunchtime Talk
The influence of social and structural features of young children's language environments on their word learning
Child-directed speech (CDS) seems to be one form of ‘high-quality’ language input that promotes young children’s language learning. But what specific features of CDS launch and enable vocabulary growth? In this talk, I will present several experiments examining specific social and structural characteristics of early language environments (such as eye contact, word repetition, and discourse continuity) that enhance children's ability to pull out words from fluent speech and to establish links between labels and objects. Together, these studies provide insight into the mechanisms underlying the relationship between caregivers’ language input and children’s language learning, as well as the ways in which this relationship changes over the course of children’s development.