Learning how to communicate is one of the biggest parts about growing up. After all, if kids can't talk back to us, then it can be incredibly frustrating for them. While most of us just put it down to one of those special learning journeys, there's a lot more too it.
A study from Princeton University has found that kids are actually picking up new words faster than expected, according to Science Daily. Researchers say that kids have been found to use prior knowledge when learning new nouns. They take what they already know about an object and use it to figure out what these words mean.
Professor of psychology at Princeton University, Adele Goldberg, says this revelation is exciting. The results of the study show that meaning matters, and it's not just about the sounds that are easiest to say.
Authors of the paper have dubbed this way of learning the "blowfish effect." If kids see something unusual like a blowfish and pair it up with a new word that goes with it, then they will come to learn that the word refers to the type of object and not just the more general topic, such as fish. Prior studies have found that while kids can associate words with meanings, they often tend to go for something much more general.
This particular research has shown that children are capable of picking words up much faster - if they're just shown more specific terms. So, while it may be tempting for parents to say "that's a fish" or refer to an animal by a general term, kids are able to make distinctions.
It's all about how we present it to them. Interestingly, researchers found that both adults and children learn new words in a similar fashion. When anyone saw a dog labelled a "fep", they were more likely to associate it with a specific type of dog.
Repetition was also a good tool to use, say the brains behind the operation. When children were shown one picture of a salmon, it was generally interpreted as fish in the general sense. However, if three salmon were shown, then kids recognized it as a particular type. Researchers hope this paper can help us understand how children develop their communication skills.