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How toddlers learn verbs: New insight

Date:
April 16, 2014
Source:
University of Liverpool
Summary:
Parents can help toddlers' language skills by showing them a variety of examples of different actions, according to new research. Previous research has shown that verbs pose particular difficulties to toddlers as they refer to actions rather than objects, and actions are often different each time a child sees them.

Parents can help toddlers' language skills by showing them a variety of examples of different actions, according to new research from the University of Liverpool.

Previous research has shown that verbs pose particular difficulties to toddlers as they refer to actions rather than objects, and actions are often different each time a child sees them.

To find out more about this area of child language, University psychologists asked a group of toddlers to watch one of two short videos.

They then examined whether watching a cartoon star repeat the same action, compared to a character performing three different actions, affected the children's understanding of verbs.

Developmental psychologist, Dr Katherine Twomey, said: "Knowledge of how children start to learn language is important to our understanding of how they progress throughout preschool and school years.

"This is the first study to indicate that showing toddlers similar but, importantly, not identical actions actually helped them understand what a verb refers to, instead of confusing them as you might expect."

Dr Jessica Horst from the University of Sussex who collaborated on the research added: "It is a crucial first step in understanding how what children see affects how they learn verbs and action categories, and provides the groundwork for future studies to examine in more detail exactly what kinds of variability affect how children learn words."

The research is published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology by The British Psychological Society and Wiley.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Liverpool. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Katherine E. Twomey, Lauren Lush, Ruth Pearce, Jessica S. Horst. Visual variability affects early verb learning. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/bjdp.12042

Cite This Page:

University of Liverpool. "How toddlers learn verbs: New insight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416101621.htm>.
University of Liverpool. (2014, April 16). How toddlers learn verbs: New insight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416101621.htm
University of Liverpool. "How toddlers learn verbs: New insight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416101621.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

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