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Concept: Vocabulary


Based on numerous studies showing that testing studied material can improve long-term retention more than restudying the same material, it is often suggested that the number of tests in education should be increased to enhance knowledge acquisition. However, testing in real-life educational settings often entails a high degree of extrinsic motivation of learners due to the common practice of placing important consequences on the outcome of a test. Such an effect on the motivation of learners may undermine the beneficial effects of testing on long-term memory because it has been shown that extrinsic motivation can reduce the quality of learning. To examine this issue, participants learned foreign language vocabulary words, followed by an immediate test in which one-third of the words were tested and one-third restudied. To manipulate extrinsic motivation during immediate testing, participants received either monetary reward contingent on test performance or no reward. After 1 week, memory for all words was tested. In the immediate test, reward reduced correct recall and increased commission errors, indicating that reward reduced the number of items that can benefit from successful retrieval. The results in the delayed test revealed that reward additionally reduced the gain received from successful retrieval because memory for initially successfully retrieved words was lower in the reward condition. However, testing was still more effective than restudying under reward conditions because reward undermined long-term memory for concurrently restudied material as well. These findings indicate that providing performance-contingent reward in a test can undermine long-term knowledge acquisition.

Concepts: Psychology, Effectiveness, Educational psychology, Learning, Knowledge, Motivation, Reward system, Vocabulary


ABSTRACT For sixty-seven children with ASD (age 1;6 to 5;11), mean Total Vocabulary score on the Language Development Survey (LDS) was 65·3 words; twenty-two children had no reported words; and twenty-one children had 1-49 words. When matched for vocabulary size, children with ASD and children in the LDS normative sample did not differ in semantic category or word-class scores. Q correlations were large when percentage use scores for the ASD sample were compared with those for samples of typically developing children as well as children with vocabularies <50 words. The 57 words with the highest percentage use scores for the ASD children were primarily nouns, represented a variety of semantic categories, and overlapped substantially with the words having highest percentage use scores in samples of typically developing children as well as children with lexicons of <50 words. Results indicated that the children with ASD were acquiring essentially the same words as typically developing children, suggesting delayed but not deviant lexical composition.

Concepts: Autism, Language, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, Speech, Lexicography, Word game, Vocabulary


Words are characterized by a variety of lexical and psychological properties, such as their part of speech, word-frequency, concreteness, or affectivity. In this study, we examine how these properties relate to a word’s connectivity in the mental lexicon, the structure containing a person’s knowledge of words. In particular, we examine the extent to which these properties display assortative mixing, that is, the extent to which words in the lexicon are more likely to be connected to words that share these properties. We investigated three types of word properties: 1) subjective word covariates: valence, dominance, arousal, and concreteness; 2) lexical information: part of speech; and 3) distributional word properties: age-of-acquisition, word frequency, and contextual diversity. We assessed which of these factors exhibit assortativity using a word association task, where the probability of producing a certain response to a cue is a measure of the associative strength between the cue and response in the mental lexicon. Our results show that the extent to which these aspects exhibit assortativity varies considerably, with a high cue-response correspondence on valence, dominance, arousal, concreteness, and part of speech, indicating that these factors correspond to the words people deem as related. In contrast, we find that cues and responses show only little correspondence on word frequency, contextual diversity, and age-of-acquisition, indicating that, compared to subjective and lexical word covariates, distributional properties exhibit only little assortativity in the mental lexicon. Possible theoretical accounts and implications of these findings are discussed.

Concepts: Language, Word, Lexeme, Lexicon, Vocabulary, Lexical item, Lexical units


Infants differ substantially in their rates of language growth, and slow growth predicts later academic difficulties. In this study, we explored how the amount of speech directed to infants in Spanish-speaking families low in socioeconomic status influenced the development of children’s skill in real-time language processing and vocabulary learning. All-day recordings of parent-infant interactions at home revealed striking variability among families in how much speech caregivers addressed to their child. Infants who experienced more child-directed speech became more efficient in processing familiar words in real time and had larger expressive vocabularies by the age of 24 months, although speech simply overheard by the child was unrelated to vocabulary outcomes. Mediation analyses showed that the effect of child-directed speech on expressive vocabulary was explained by infants' language-processing efficiency, which suggests that richer language experience strengthens processing skills that facilitate language growth.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Skill, Language, Learning, Speech, The Child, Word game, Vocabulary


Data were analyzed from a population-based, longitudinal sample of 8,650 U.S. children to (a) identify factors associated with or predictive of oral vocabulary size at 24 months of age and (b) evaluate whether oral vocabulary size is uniquely predictive of academic and behavioral functioning at kindergarten entry. Children from higher socioeconomic status households, females, and those experiencing higher quality parenting had larger oral vocabularies. Children born with very low birth weight or from households where the mother had health problems had smaller oral vocabularies. Even after extensive covariate adjustment, 24-month-old children with larger oral vocabularies displayed greater reading and mathematics achievement, increased behavioral self-regulation, and fewer externalizing and internalizing problem behaviors at kindergarten entry.

Concepts: Sociology, Vocabulary


Both the input directed to the child, and the child’s ability to process that input, are likely to impact the child’s language acquisition. We explore how these factors inter-relate by tracking the relationships among: (a) lexical properties of maternal child-directed speech to prelinguistic (7-month-old) infants (N = 121); (b) these infants' abilities to segment lexical targets from conversational child-directed utterances in an experimental paradigm; and © the children’s vocabulary outcomes at age 2;0. Both repetitiveness in maternal input and the child’s speech segmentation skills at age 0;7 predicted language outcomes at 2;0; moreover, while these factors were somewhat inter-related, they each had independent effects on toddler vocabulary skill, and there was no interaction between the two.

Concepts: Infant, Developmental biology, Skill, Linguistics, Language, Speech, Speech repetition, Vocabulary


Nonword repetition (NWR) is highly predictive of vocabulary size, has strong links to language and reading ability, and is a clinical marker of language impairment. However, it is unclear what processes provide major contributions to NWR performance. This paper presents a computational model of NWR based on Chunking Lexical and Sub-lexical Sequences in Children (CLASSIC) that focuses on the child’s exposure to language when learning lexical phonological knowledge. Based on language input aimed at 2-6year old children, CLASSIC shows a substantial fit to children’s NWR performance for 6 different types of NWR test across 6 different NWR studies that use children of various ages from 2;1 to 6;1. Furthermore, CLASSIC’s repetitions of individual nonwords correlate significantly with children’s repetitions of the same nonwords, NWR performance shows strong correlations to vocabulary size, and interaction effects seen in the model are consistent with those found in children. Such a fit to the data is achieved without any need for developmental parameters, suggesting that between the ages of two and six years, NWR performance measures the child’s current level of linguistic knowledge that arises from their exposure to language over time and their ability to extract lexical phonological knowledge from that exposure.

Concepts: Linguistics, Language, Developmental psychology, Speech, Lexicography, Word game, Vocabulary,


The current study investigated the role of spatial distance in word learning. Two-year-old children saw three novel objects named while the objects were either in close proximity to each other or spatially separated. Children were then tested on their retention for the name-object associations. Keeping the objects spatially separated from each other during naming was associated with increased retention for children with larger vocabularies. Children with a lower vocabulary size demonstrated better retention if they saw objects in close proximity to each other during naming. This demonstrates that keeping a clear view of objects during naming improves word learning for children who have already learned many words, but keeping objects within close proximal range is better for children at earlier stages of vocabulary acquisition. The effect of distance is therefore not equal across varying vocabulary sizes. The influences of visual crowding, cognitive load, and vocabulary size on word learning are discussed.

Concepts: Language, Learning, Knowledge, Lexicography, Vocabulary


Fathers' child-directed speech across two contexts was examined. Father-child dyads from sixty-nine low-income families were videotaped interacting during book reading and toy play when children were 2;0. Fathers used more diverse vocabulary and asked more questions during book reading while their mean length of utterance was longer during toy play. Variation in these specific characteristics of fathers' speech that differed across contexts was also positively associated with child vocabulary skill measured on the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory. Results are discussed in terms of how different contexts elicit specific qualities of child-directed speech that may promote language use and development.

Concepts: Family, Language, Question, Child, Childhood, Learning, Speech, Vocabulary


This study examined the role of the language of vocabulary instruction in promoting English vocabulary in preschool Latino Dual Language Learners (DLL). We compared the effectiveness of delivering a single evidence-informed vocabulary approach using English as the language of vocabulary instruction (English-Culturally Responsive, ECR) versus using a bilingual modality that strategically combined Spanish and English (Culturally and Linguistically Responsive, CLR).

Concepts: United States, Phonology, Linguistics, Language, Second language, Semiotics, Spanish American, Vocabulary