Learning Through Processing: Toward an Integrated Approach to Early Word Learning.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Children's linguistic knowledge and the learning mechanisms by which they acquire it grow substantially in infancy and toddlerhood, yet theories of word learning largely fail to incorporate these shifts. Moreover, researchers' often-siloed focus on either familiar word recognition or novel word learning limits the critical consideration of how these two relate. As a step toward a mechanistic theory of language acquisition, we present a framework of "learning through processing" and relate it to the prevailing methods used to assess children's early knowledge of words. Incorporating recent empirical work, we posit a specific, testable timeline of qualitative changes in the learning process in this interval. We conclude with several challenges and avenues for building a comprehensive theory of early word learning: better characterization of the input, reconciling results across approaches, and treating lexical knowledge in the nascent grammar with sufficient sophistication to ensure generalizability across languages and development.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Meylan, SC; Bergelson, E

Published Date

  • January 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 8 /

Start / End Page

  • 77 - 99

PubMed ID

  • 35481110

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9037961

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2333-9691

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2333-9683

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1146/annurev-linguistics-031220-011146


  • eng