An Embodied Perspective of Early Language Exposure


Advances in developmental research has made it clear that word learning has a long beginning. Recent work has demonstrated that infants learn words at 6 months of age—that is, before the traditional “first word” milestone in productive language—which is a full year before the usual “naming explosion” in productive vocabulary. Before infants talk, walk, or even point, how can the earliest stage of word learning take place at all? We used recent technology that allowed us to zoom in on the point of view of infants and also the traditional roomview observations to document how infants’ visual input is dynamically synchronized with their own participation, as well as from social input in the context of parent-child word learning play. The parents’ task was to play with the child with a set of toys as they taught the toys to them. To specifically document the child’s dominant view and their participation, we coded the size of the toy object on which the child was focused and who was manipulating the toy at the moment. The results reveal systematic and dynamic links between infants’ view and their level of participation.

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