How do children learn words?
Children learn thousands of words before they even begin school. But word learning doesn't stop there -- we learn words throughout our lives, and building a big vocabulary can help us succeed in school and beyond. We have several ongoing projects that explore the mechanisms involved in word learning. Some of these projects include how children can use their understanding of familiar events and routines, their ability to understand patterns, and their category knowledge to learn new word meanings.
How do children learn connections between word meanings?
Children not only need to learn about individual word meanings, but they need to figure out how and why similar words are related in meaning. Ongoing studies explore how children learn these connections and how they can support vocabulary growth in general. We aim to use the studies to devise specific interventions to support these skills.
How do children learn to understand language in everyday speech?
If you’ve ever tried to learn a foreign language, you might be able to relate to the difference between learning individual words and understanding multiple words in speech. Speech unfolds at several words per second, and it can be difficult to identify boundaries between words. How do children succeed at this task? We explore these questions in ongoing studies involving spoken language comprehension.
How can predictive skills support language learning?
Humans have an amazing ability to generate predictions about what will happen around them. How do these skills contribute to language learning and understanding? In recent projects we have been exploring how children and adults can use their predictions to help them learn language.
How can we help identify and support children with language disorders?
Children with developmental language disorder comprise approximately 7% of the school-age population. These children are often not identified until after they have already struggled for several years in school. Earlier identification and support can be crucial for ensuring that children who struggle with language skills succeed. We have several projects and collaborations that seek to understand how word learning and language processing skills can be used as a way to identify and support toddlers and preschoolers.