How do children learn language?
Children learn language by observing language use around them. They pay attention to their environment. After all, Chinese kids learn Chinese and Turkish kids learn Turkish. But just as obviously, children come to the language learning ‘task’ equipped with abilities and predispositions unique to humans. After all, chimps and parrots, with all their gifts, don’t learn to talk like we do.
But just how do children use their environmental input? And just what are those abilities and precursors to language learning? This is what we are studying at the UConn Child Language Lab. We study how kids develop in both speaking and understanding, but our focus is on language comprehension because early on, kids really seem to understand more than they can say and we want to give the kids every possible way to show what they know.
And as you look through the projects we’re involved in, you’ll see that very young children really understand a lot about language!