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Novel word learning at 21 months predicts receptive vocabulary outcomes in later childhood

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2019

Vinaya RAJAN*
Affiliation:
University of the Sciences
Haruka KONISHI
Affiliation:
Missouri Western State University
Katherine RIDGE
Affiliation:
University of Minnesota
Derek M. HOUSTON
Affiliation:
The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Nationwide Children's Hospital
Roberta Michnick GOLINKOFF
Affiliation:
University of Delaware
Kathy HIRSH-PASEK
Affiliation:
Temple University
Nancy EASTMAN
Affiliation:
The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Nationwide Children's Hospital
Richard G. SCHWARTZ
Affiliation:
City University of New York
*
*Correspondence author: University of the Sciences, 600 S. 43rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail: v.rajan@usciences.edu

Abstract

Several aspects of early language skills, including parent-report measures of vocabulary, phoneme discrimination, speech segmentation, and speed of lexical access predict later childhood language outcomes. To date, no studies have examined the long-term predictive validity of novel word learning. We examined whether individual differences in novel word learning at 21 months predict later childhood receptive vocabulary outcomes rather than generalized cognitive abilities. Twenty-eight 21-month-olds were taught novel words using a modified version of the Intermodal Preferential Looking Paradigm. Seventeen children (range 7–10 years) returned to participate in a longitudinal follow-up. Novel word learning in infancy uniquely accounted for 22% of the variance in childhood receptive vocabulary but did not predict later childhood visuospatial ability or non-verbal IQ. These results suggest that the ability to associate novel sound patterns to novel objects, an index of the process of word learning, may be especially important for long-term language mastery.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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