The journey to language and literacy starts in the cradle

  • Janet Werker

  • January 12, 2021

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Suzanne Curtin and Janet Werker recently published an article in the Globe and Mail on the building blocks of language learning formed in infancy and the impact of COVID-19 on this formation.

While infants are born ready to acquire language, acquisition happens through the social interactions they have with their caregivers. These interactions allow the child to learn not only the words and structure of their language, but also how to become a communication partner.

Curtin and Werker address the concerns of many parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions have meant that parents are now expected to not only work from home but also to take on homeschooling responsibilities. ‘Time and attention are divided, but infants are remarkably well suited – _even in our radically changing home lives – _to begin their journey to language learning and literacy.’

The authors also discuss the role of screens and new media in infant language development as these tools have become increasingly important throughout 2020.

While a baby can’t learn language by sitting in front of a television, and screens are no substitute for in-person interactions, responsive interactions over various forms of video chat have been shown to support word learning. Moreover, having a responsive person read to (or with) a young child over video chat aids learning.

You can read the full article at the Globe and Mail here.