Words are the building blocks of language as a powerful communicative modality. My research focuses on a variety of learning strategies that young children use to acquire a sizeable lexicon. These strategies involve (statistical) learning mechanisms that help them cope with visual input, and following their parents' social cues such as gestures to determine the correct referent for a novel word-meaning mapping. Through experimental research with toddlers and caregivers, I aim to provide insight in how such language strategies may complement each other. The goal of this project is to determine the factors that influence how 2- to 4-year-old children learn novel words, and use this evidence to develop a comprehensive model of early word learning. Ultimately, this model will be used to construct educationally responsible materials for preschoolers to improve word learning, minimizing the risk of them falling behind in school at a later age.
Professor Sotaro Kita