April 8th, 2014
For this week’s SRL meeting we are teaming up with the Developmental Seminar again and will be welcoming Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt’s Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education. Her research is focused on infant and toddler learning and development in the areas of language and communication, object play, cognition, motor skills, gender identity, emotion regulation, and social understanding, and the long term implications of early emerging skills for children’s developmental trajectories.
Her title and abstract are below, also included is a link to download a brand new publication in Current Directions in Psychological Science: “Why Is Infant Language Learning Facilitated by Parental Responsiveness?”
All are welcome and invited to attend
Where: Psychology Conference Room #128 (behind front office)
When: Friday April 11, 2014 – 1:30pm
Temporal Structure of Language Input: Implications for Infant Word Learning
Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda
Parent-infant interaction is the primary context in which infants learn culturally valued skills, most notably how to use the tool of language to share intentions with others. In this talk, I consider several temporal features of language input that function to support infants’ word learning. This analysis considers language input within a nested time structure: unfolding from second-to-second and minute-to-minute across the weeks, months, and years of children’s lives. Based on a second-to-second, microanalysis of infant-mother language interactions, we show that language input is contiguous and contingent on infant actions: mothers increase their talk following infant communicative or exploratory behaviors, but suppress language when infants are off task. Moreover, responsive language is lexically rich and multi-modal, thereby providing infants with physical cues (e.g., gestures) to the words that are spoken. When language input is examined across the minutes and hours of infants’ home routines, it is characterized by massive fluctuations that range over 120 words, in which spurts of lexically rich input are followed by minutes of silence. In the context of these fluctuations, infants hear a relatively low, constant number of novel words each minute against a backdrop of repeated words. This novelty in the context of familiarity creates a foreground-background effect that does not overload the young learner. Moreover, the forms and functions of language shift from minute to minute as infants transition to new activity contexts. For example, mothers are more likely to use referential language, and in turn more nouns, during literacy routines than during feeding and grooming routines, but conversely more regulatory language and verbs during routines such as feeding and play. These temporal fluctuations in language content provide infants with opportunities to learn the various pragmatic functions of language. Over the months and years of early child development, parents tailor their language input in line with the changing skills of their infants. These modifications function to “up-the-ante” in ways that scaffold child learning.