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New research from Stanford psychologists reveals that the amount parents speak directly to their toddler can make an incredible difference in the child's language proficiency and vocabulary. Stanford research shows that parents can boost their child's vocabulary development and language skills with frequent vocal interactions.
Just as young children need nourishing food to build physical strength, they also need linguistic nutrition for optimal development of language and cognitive abilities.
New research from Stanford psychologists shows that by talking more to their toddler, parents help the child learn to process language more quickly, which accelerates vocabulary growth. Previous efforts to measure the impact of child-directed speech have involved observing a mother and child interact for an hour or so during child-centered activities.
Instead of bringing caregivers and toddlers to the lab for observation, Weisleder and Anne Fernald, a Stanford psychology professor and co-author on this study, published in the journal Psychological Science, asked mothers to record their children in the everyday tumult of the home environment.
The recordings were analyzed by special software, called LENA (Language Environment Analysis), which distinguishes between human speech and other sources of speech, such as television and radio, and provides a measure of each. There were surprisingly large differences between families in the amount of child-directed speech toddlers heard from adults over the course of a 10-hour day. To determine the impact of these differences, the researchers conducted follow-up tests five months later. The researchers also assessed children's efficiency in language processing, using a procedure designed by Fernald.


Trained "coders" then reviewed the video, noting the exact moment when the child's gaze shifted toward the named object.
This test showed that children who had experienced more child-directed speech were more efficient at processing language. In another recent study, these researchers found that by the age of 2 years, English-learning children from lower-SES families were already 6 months behind same-age children from higher-SES families in vocabulary and speech processing skills that are crucial for language learning. The current study, however, controlled for SES differences by including only participants from disadvantaged backgrounds. In other cases, Weisleder said, the mothers they spoke with were unaware that they were capable of helping their young children learn. The scientists are now working on interventions with disadvantaged Latino families to help parents learn how to engage more effectively with toddlers. News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services. In general, children of lower-SES families have smaller vocabularies and lower language proficiency scores than more advantaged children. They enrolled 29 children, 19 months old, from low-income Latino families, a growing sector of the U.S.
Native Spanish speakers then listened to the recordings to differentiate adult speech directed to the child from speech the child only overheard, such as when the caregiver was on the phone or talking with another adult.


One toddler heard more than 12,000 words of child-directed speech, while another heard only 670 words during the entire day. In this way the researchers could  study children's speed and accuracy in interpreting familiar words, with millisecond-level precision.
The analyses revealed a cascade of effects – those toddlers who heard more child-directed talk became faster and more reliable in interpreting speech, and it was their superior skill in processing language that then increased their success in vocabulary learning.
An important finding was that even within a low-SES group there were substantial differences among parents in verbal engagement with their children and in children's language outcomes. The researchers believe this lack of confidence exists partly because the adults hadn't received much education themselves. By developing special games and skill-building exercises, their goal is to educate families about the crucial role they can play in fostering a child's language and cognitive development. The new work helps elucidate the mechanism for these SES disparities, suggesting ways to reduce the language gap. Each child was outfitted with a special shirt containing a small audio recorder that captured all the sounds he or she heard during the day.




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talking skills synonym 360



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