Parents help toddlers learn new words with pauses in speech


Parents who are not exactly what someone would call ‘best friends’ with diction are actually doing a good job teaching their children how to talk. The common “um” or “er” doesn’t affect the way in which children register the words that are coming out of their parents’ mouths. Interjections that could prove to be of an embarrassing nature when talking to a superior do not appear to have the same effect when it comes to teaching children new words.

According to researchers, children ascertain better the meaning of a word by how parents manage to highlight its sounds when placed between such pauses. It seems that the children pay more attention when their parents stumble over their own words.

Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester have found out that these stumbles can actually enhance the level of understanding shown by each toddler. The research has revealed that children will learn how to talk and express their emotions very early in life.

The same scientists say that children often miss words if their parents are fluent in speaking or speak really fast. Those who don’t express themselves as fast as a news anchor presents the news can find that their pauses between words are beneficial for their children.

Richard Aslin, who is one of the researchers from the University of Rochester, believes that parents who know themselves as being not as good orators don’t need to worry about focusing on their children’s spoken language. He said:

The more predictions a toddler can make about what is being communicated, the more efficiently he or she can understand it.

The research study was made on a group of children between 18 to 30 months of age. They were placed on their parent’s knee and left to watch a series of 2 images on a screen. One of them presented itself as a common known object such as a ball or a book, while the other was different and completely foreign, such as “gorp”. About 70% of the children looked at the different image instead of the familiar one when they listened to a voice that mentioned some of those foreign objects.

This means parents don’t need to pressure themselves too much when it comes to teaching their children new words.


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Emma Brown

Emma graduated in 2005 from the University of York with a degree in English Literature. A huge passion for writing and health topics, Emma is a perfect match for Health News UK. Hobbies include; cooking, writing (of course), musicals and her 2 dogs.

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