The Comprehension Boost in Early Word Learning: Older Infants Are Better Learners

Published

Journal Article

© 2020 Society for Research in Child Development Recent research has revealed that infants begin understanding words at around 6 months. After that, infants’ comprehension vocabulary increases gradually in a linear way over 8–18 months, according to data from parental checklists. In contrast, infants’ word comprehension improves robustly, qualitatively, and in a nonlinear way just after their first birthday, according to data from studies on spoken word comprehension. In this review, I integrate observational and experimental data to explain these divergent results. I argue that infants’ comprehension boost is not well-explained by changes in their language input for common words, but rather by proposing that they learn to take better advantage of relatively stable input data. Next, I propose potentially complementary theoretical accounts of what makes older infants better learners. Finally, I suggest how the research community can expand our empirical base in this understudied area, and why doing so will inform our knowledge about child development.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bergelson, E

Published Date

  • January 1, 2020

Published In

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1750-8606

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1750-8592

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/cdep.12373

Citation Source

  • Scopus