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Minimal pair word learning and vocabulary size: links with later language skills


Kemp, N and Scott, J and Bernhardt, BM and Johnson, CE and Siegel, LS and Werker, JF, Minimal pair word learning and vocabulary size: links with later language skills, Applied Psycholinguistics, 38, (2) pp. 289-314. ISSN 0142-7164 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Cambridge University Press

DOI: doi:10.1017/S0142716416000199


There is increasing interest in the link between early linguistic skills and later language development. In a longitudinal study, we investigated infants’ (a) ability to use speech sound categories to guide word learning in the habituation-based minimal pair switch task, and (b) early productive vocabulary, related to their concurrent and later language task performance. The participants at Phase 1 were 64 infants aged 16–24 months (25 with familial risk of language/speech impairment), followed up at 27 months (Phase 2) and at 3 years (Phase 3). Phase 1 productive vocabulary was correlated with Phase 2 productive vocabulary, and with concurrent and later (Phase 3) tests of language production and comprehension scores (standardized tool), and phonology. Phase 1 switch task performance was correlated with concurrent productive vocabulary and language production scores, but not by Phase 3. However, a combination of early low vocabulary score and a preference for looking at an already-habituated word–object combination in the switch task may show some promise as an identifier for early speech–language intervention. We discuss how these relations can help us better understand the foundations of word learning.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:language development, infants, word learning, Switch task, language delay
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Applied and developmental psychology
Research Field:Psychology of ageing
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Kemp, N (Associate Professor Nenagh Kemp)
ID Code:114170
Year Published:2017 (online first 2016)
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2017-02-08
Last Modified:2018-03-23

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