Developmental Science

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Volume 21 Issue 6 (November 2018), Pages

Using language input and lexical processing to predict vocabulary size


Children learn words by listening to caregivers, and the quantity and quality of early language input predict later language development. Recent research suggests that word recognition efficiency may influence the relationship between input and vocabulary growth. We asked whether language input and lexical processing at 28–39 months predicted vocabulary size one year later in 109 preschoolers. Input was measured using adult word counts from LENA recordings. We used the visual world paradigm and measured lexical processing as the rate of change in proportion of looks to target. Regression analysis showed that lexical processing did not constrain the effect of input on vocabulary size. We also found that input and processing were more reliable predictors of receptive than expressive vocabulary growth.

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