358 Language & Children


Research by Gilkerson, J., Richards, J. A., Warren, S. F., Oller K., Russo, R., & Vohr, B. (2018).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S

Are there critical periods when children develop language skills and thus future potential? Psychologists studied whether verbal interactions during infancy and toddlerhood can impact later intellectual skills.

For 6 months, they made day long audio recordings of 150 infants ages 2 to 36 months. They assessed the adult word exposure, child vocalization, and turn-taking interactions. Ten years later, at ages 9 to 14, the researchers assessed the children’s language and cognitive skills.

Results? Particularly for infants between 18 and 24 months, those who had greater conversational back and forth exchanges, and exposure to a more varied vocabulary, showed the greatest increase in IQ, verbal comprehension and receptive and expressive vocabulary. Early talk and interactions with toddlers are beneficial for later school-age children’s language and cognitive skills; thus, school success.

So, let’s talk, read to them, play word games, rhyme, joke, and interact verbally with young children. Talk with them about the world, what you are thinking, doing, feeling and caring about. Ask them questions and answer theirs in detail. Have fun! Engage and talk with them at a young age, especially between 18 to 24 months, as this is a critical time to enrich their skills later on!


Gilkerson, J., Richards, J. A., Warren, S. F., Oller K., Russo, R., & Vohr, B. (2018). Language experience in the second year of life and language outcomes in late childhood. Pediatrics, 142(4), 1-13.


About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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