Stories tagged toddlers

Aug
08
2007

Toddlers learn language by listening to their parents speak: Photo by nieve44 at flickr.com
Toddlers learn language by listening to their parents speak: Photo by nieve44 at flickr.com

It sounds like a particularly messy disease. Or my reaction to the idiot driver ahead of me. But “word spurt” is the term scientists use to describe the sudden onset of language that most children achieve around 18 months of age. Prior to that, they speak only isolated words from a limited vocabulary. But after the spurt, they suddenly start speaking whole sentences, expressing original thoughts.

Previously, scientists had thought that some mechanism in the brain had to develop to a point where it made language possible. But new research indicates that babies are learning words all along, almost from birth. It's just that they're learning many words simultaneously. Once they’ve figured out how to decipher a few dozen words, they start to understand the basics of how language works. From there, it becomes much easier to add more and more words.

Now all we need is for science to tell us how to get them to be quiet!