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Language Development

Aquiring Words

About the Designers
What is language?
Theories of Language Development
The Pre-Linguistic Phase
Beginnings of Intentional Communication
Guidelines for Intentional Communication
Intentional Communication: why?
Four Main Aspects of Language
Aquiring Words
Errors In Word Learning
Fun Facts

How are words aquired?

Children learn words VERY FAST. In fast mapping, tot's learn to relate a word to a concept incredibly quickly, even after experiencing people refer a word to the concept as little as 2-3 times!
(Hetherington, Parke, & Schmuckler, 2003, Mervis, C. B., & Betrand, J., 1994), Berko Gleason, J., 2005)

So what words do children learn first?

A classic study by Nelson (1973) found that the bulk of chilren's first words were general nominals, that is.. words denoting classes of objects but not explicit names. Ex: doll, animal. After general nouns, came specific nominals, then action words (up, hi), followed by modifiers (adjectives), social words, and function words.
Thus, nouns were found to be the most common in first words. This could probably be because nouns are less complex. Where a noun only has one form plus the plural, it is much easier than learning action words (verbs such as run where there is also ran, running). However, do not forget that this is only our culture we are talking of here. In other cultures it is the opposite. In some cultures, actions are emphasised, like in Korea. Choi (2000) found that there was a preference for learning nouns in english but in Korea there was a preference for verbs, action related words.