Clinical Issues: Children’s Word Learning: An Introduction Children know the wonder and power of words. How pleased they must be with the reaction to their first spoken word. How determined they seem when, as toddlers, they address their hundredth “wha dat?” to a harried parent. How entertained they are by playing with the sound and meaning of ... Clinical Issues
Clinical Issues  |   October 01, 2005
Clinical Issues: Children’s Word Learning: An Introduction
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Karla K. McGregor
    Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
    Guest Editor
Article Information
Development / Clinical Issues
Clinical Issues   |   October 01, 2005
Clinical Issues: Children’s Word Learning: An Introduction
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, October 2005, Vol. 12, 3-4. doi:10.1044/lle12.3.3
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, October 2005, Vol. 12, 3-4. doi:10.1044/lle12.3.3
Children know the wonder and power of words. How pleased they must be with the reaction to their first spoken word. How determined they seem when, as toddlers, they address their hundredth “wha dat?” to a harried parent. How entertained they are by playing with the sound and meaning of words in those, by adult-standards, seriously unfunny knock-knock jokes.
In my roles as a researcher, a speech-language pathologist, and a very committed aunt, I am frequently amazed by the child’s capacity for word learning. I am not alone. In study after study, researchers conclude that children can link a new word to its referent after hearing the word only once or twice in context. These contexts need not contain ostensive cues and their referents do not need to be within sight (Tomasello, 2000); it is not even necessary that the words be directed to the child (Akhtar, Jipson, & Callanan, 2001)—apparently children also know the power of eavesdropping!
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