Why are Infants Such Bright Language Learners? An Insight into Language Learning in Typically Developing Preschoolers and Preschoolers with SLI
AuthorGallegos, Celeste Bryony
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractInfants are especially bright language learners. Newport (1990) suggests language learning occurs under maturational constraints meaning less mature learners seem better equipped to learn language. We suggest that this "immaturity" is driven by reliance on implicit learning which makes infants more "open-minded" (Quam et al, 2015). In order to shed light on implicit learning deficits in preschoolers with SLI and how these children may be similar to adults learning a second language, our preliminary studies ran 49 children between 48-73 months of age in a sound-category learning task that was best learned by integrating two sound dimensions. This type of information-integration category structure has been shown to be best learned implicitly (Maddox et al, 2013). In Experiment 1 (training and test blocks), 9 of the 11 children who showed learning relied on F₂ for their category judgements. In Experiment 2 (test blocks), all 6 "learners" relied primarily on F₂. Overall, there was minimal cue integration. We concluded that Experiments 1 and 2 promoted use of explicit learning instead of implicit learning. Experiment 3 will utilize separate sound-category learning tasks (one explicit, one implicit) to help us evaluate sound-category learning in typically developing children and children with SLI from local preschools.
Degree ProgramHonors College
Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences