Language acquisition

According to a study at UCLA, reported on EurekaAlert!, young children acquiring language benefit most from conversations. Reading them stories and talking to them are also helpful, but two-sided conversations have much stronger effects on their language development.

A study of language use in 275 families looked at the affects of conversation, adult monologueing, reading aloud and watching TV. It found that the one with the greatest positive effect on language development was conversation, which had up to six times more benefit than the other activities, while watching TV had neither positive nor negative effects.

The more children take part in conversations, the more opportunities they have to learn from their mistakes and use new words. The interactions of conversation are also important for social, emotional and cognitive development.

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This entry was posted in Language acquisition, Linguistics.

4 Responses to Language acquisition

  1. Esteban says:

    One more reason not to plop your kids down in front of the tv for 12 hours a day! ;o)

  2. stormboy says:

    I’ve heard the observations about TV not being of use in child language acquisition before, so am always sceptical of people who say that their children learned a language by being put in front of a TV (and left to their own devices).

  3. Tommy says:

    In my experience working with kids (and having been a kid myself), television, movies, books (basically single-sense channels) are good to reinforce already “learned” material. Music and programs or movies with sing-along music (like Disney movies, Sesame street) and picture books read outloud are different because they activate more senses.

    I’m not sure about the idea of children learning from their own mistakes or other’s mistakes during conversations. That ability to simultaneously carry on conversation and actively analyze speech is more a characteristic of adults rather than children. For children, I think it’s more a question of instinctual adaptation to surrounding peers.

    As adults, in my opinion, we only “learn” or remember what we already somewhat know by some other experience or have interest in. “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards all the rest” (S&G)

  4. lingvoj says:

    I believe this would aply also to adult language acquisition.