Parents, you may get annoyed with the silly questions of your kids. But a new study says, answering those questions may help your toddlers to improve their language skills in a better way.
According to the scientists, when parents respond to young children in timely and meaningful ways, the tiny tots learn new words better.
The researchers at the University of Washington, Temple University and the University of Delaware conducted the study on three dozen 2-year-old children.
They were randomly assigned to learn new verbs in one of three ways:
• Training with a live person
• Training through video chat technology such as Skype that allows audio and video interaction via screen between users at different locations
• Watching a prerecorded video of the same person instructing a different child who was off screen and thus out of synch with the child
Researchers found that children learned new words only when a social interaction was established. While conversing with a person and in the live video chat, the children got the opportunity to have back-and-forth social interactions. This helped them improve the word power.
Notably, they didn’t learn the new words through the prerecorded video instruction, which was not responsive to the child.
“The study highlights the importance of responsive interactions for language learning,” said Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, professor of psychology at Temple University, who coauthored the study.
“Interactions allow adults and toddlers to respond to each other in a back-and-forth fashion – such as live instruction and the video chats. These types of interactions seem to be central for learning words,” she said.
The study was published in the journal Child Development.