How about you?
I first heard this one when it was brand new in last year and I have thought about it and thought about it and thought about it.
I’ve decided to share it so you can think about it too.
I don’t want to give away too much of the talk so you’ll listen yourself, but here’s my take away message:
Every time the speaker’s toddler learned a new word, all three of his primary caregivers (mom, dad, and nanny) used lots of single words just before the he began to say the new word.
Read how he describes it:
“And all of the data, we aligned based on the following idea: Every time my son would learn a word, we would trace back and look at all of the language he heard that contained that word. And we would plot the relative length of the utterances. And what we found was this curious phenomena, that caregiver speech would systematically dip to a minimum, making language as simple as possible, and then slowly ascend back up in complexity. And the amazing thing was that bounce, that dip, lined up almost precisely with when each word was born — word after word, systematically. So it appears that all three primary caregivers — myself, my wife and our nanny — were systematically and, I would think, subconsciously restructuring our language to meet him at the birth of a word and bring him gently into more complex language. And the implications of this — there are many, but one I just want to point out, is that there must be amazing feedback loops. Of course, my son is learning from his linguistic environment, but the environment is learning from him. That environment, people, are in these tight feedback loops and creating a kind of scaffolding that has not been noticed until now.”
Isn’t that awesome information?
His body of research supports my recommendation to slow down language and model single words for brand new talkers to imitate.
Of course at some point we should add complexity and make language richer and all that stuff…
BUT my take away message is pretty clear:
In order for a toddler to learn to say new words, he must hear that new word modeled over and over and over again in it’s simplest form at the word level.
New talkers shouldn’t have to struggle to pick out new words to imitate from adult conversation.
Adults should model single words we want a child to learn to say.
Listen for yourself: