The Words Children Hear

(Psychological Science) Young children learn language from the speech they hear. Previous work suggests that greater statistical diversity of words and of linguistic contexts is associated with better language outcomes. One potential source of lexical diversity is the text of picture books that caregivers read aloud to children. Many parents begin reading to their children shortly after birth, so this is potentially an important source of linguistic input for many children. We constructed a corpus of 100 children’s picture books and compared word type and token counts in that sample and a matched sample of child-directed speech. Overall, the picture books contained more unique word types than the child-directed speech. Download Paper. Listen to NPR Story.

Montag, Jessica L, Jones, Michael N, Smith, Linda B (2015). The words children hear: picture books and the statistics for language learning. Psychological Science, August 4, 2015. Read Abstract.

Publication:      Psychological Science
Authors:             Jessica L. Montag, Michael N. Jones and Linda B. Smith
Publish Date:   8.4.2015