Toddler peers: From nonverbal coordinated action to verbal discourse
Twenty-four toddlers (24 months of age) interacted with an adult play partner who experimentally created two different nonverbal interactive contexts surrounding her speech to the toddlers. One, a nonverbal imitation game, mimicked that hypothesized to facilitate toddlers' discourse with one another. The second mimicked another frequent form of toddler peer interaction, parallel play. After establishing the nonverbal context, the adult verbally described her own or the child's nonverbal action. Being engaged in nonverbal imitation games facilitated toddlers (1) responding verbally to the adult s speech in a topically well-connected way and (2) maintaining topically-connected responses over successive turns. Using nonverbal imitative acts, toddlers appear to nonverbally negotiate a topic for their interactions that facilitates their skill in verbal discourse.
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