Discourse continuity promotes children’s learning of new objects labels


The present study examined the influence of continuity of reference (i.e., discourse continuity) on children’s learning of new objects labels. Four-year-old children were taught three new label/objects pairs, where the speaker’s references to objects were either continuous (i.e., clusters of utterances referred to the same object) or discontinuous (i.e., no two sequential sentences referred to the same object). In two experiments, children learned new word/object mappings more successfully when object labels were accompanied by continuous references to the same object. This research reveals how discourse cues support children’s encoding of new words, and in doing so, advances our understanding of the specific features of parents’ language input that facilitate children’s language development.

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