Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Babies and the Words They Learn First

I Just heard about this new study. Babies begin learning words fairly fast, by about 10 months of age. It turns out that the words are of objects that are of the most interest to the baby, and not necesarily words that parents are trying to get them to say. Below is a part of a summary article from Yahoo news.

"Though they are learning words at 10 months old, infants tend to grasp the names of objects that interest them rather than whatever the speaker thinks is important, a new study finds.
And they do it quickly.

The infants were able to learn two new words in five minutes with just five presentations for each word and object, said study leader Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University. Importantly, the babies paired a new word to the object they liked best, regardless of what object the speaker referred to.

"The baby naturally assumes that the word you're speaking goes with the object that they think is interesting, not the object that you show an interest in," Hirsh-Pasek said.

The result is not too surprising, Hirsh-Pasek said in a telephone interview. She says interest drives learning for older children, too, and even adults.

She cites six-year-olds she's heard talking knowledgably about baseball players' batting averages. "How in the world do they get it? They're not going to do decimals until 7th or 8th grade."

"Ten-month-olds simply 'glue' a label onto the most interesting object they see," said Shannon Pruden, a Temple doctoral student in psychology and lead author of a report on the findings in the March/April issue of the journal Child Development."

Thinking of my own children, this does make a lot of sense. When they began saying "mommy" and "daddy" early, that is good know they were interested in us. Then came things like the dog and ball, and so on, which were the objects they wanted to interact with the most, even if we tried to get them interested in other toys. This does make great sense when you think of the types of information you can recall and remember easily, which is information about topics you are interested in; at least there is data that support what may seem to be a common sense type of result.


mark said...

" "How in the world do they get it? They're not going to do decimals until 7th or 8th grade."

They understand Larger-smaller, better-worse and sequence. Fractions of a whole comprehension isn't needed for batting averages.

my son's first words were...
" I'm...THIRSTY !" and then he didn't speak again for six months.

vonny said...

I don't agree with the notion that they get decimals in 7th and 8th grade. The Excite 3rd graders are beginning decimals...this concept comes in earlier than in the article.

I have to admit that my son actually said the dog's name before 'daddy.' :-)