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Children’s Lexical Development Mechanisms Essay

Language learning is one of the most powerful factors and incentives in the development of the child, the child discovers the access to all the achievements of human culture, forms the identity of the person as a whole; and in addition, it is the basis of psychological processes. It is closely linked with thinking. The ability to choose the right word is highly dependent on the size of the vocabulary, which contributes to the clarity and precision of thought.

Thus, the lexical development is significant and demands closer attention. The major purpose of the paper is to explore the mechanisms, biases, and experiences that are important for children’s lexical development. There are a lot of reasonable opinions that should be taken into consideration. However, I believe that there are three fundamental factors that contribute to positive lexical development. Some experts are sure that word learning biases are assumptions that help children to extend their vocabulary and learn new words faster (Hansen and Markman 592).

Whereas other experts claim that children learn new words when they look at the object and hear the definition (Parise et al. 842). In addition, there is a popular opinion that the ability and mechanisms of learning new words are highly dependent on the language peculiarities (Syrett, Musolino, and Gelman 146). So, children from different countries learn words in a different way.

Speech is one of the most important mental functions. Higher forms of cognitive activity and ability for conceptual thinking are shaped in the process of the development of speech. The meaning of the word is a generalization and therefore is not only the unit of speech but the unit of thought as well. They are not identical and are formed independently. Ellen Markman, in her numerous works, makes an accent on the mechanisms of associations and their significance to the lexical development of a child.

The ability to associate new words and their meaning contributes to positive development and extension of the vocabulary. The researcher states that a child should undergo three stages before a new world is acquired (Hansen and Markman 592). These stages involve the whole object assumption, the taxonomic assumption, and the mutual exclusivity assumption. To get better involved in the issue, every stage should be taken into consideration.

According to the whole object assumption, when a child hears a new word, he perceives the object in general, however, not parts. A number of experiments proved that when a child is given an object and is provided with a new word, he will think that this word refers to the whole object. As for the taxonomic assumption, it is worth noting that children tend to categorize objects based on the thematic relations. For example, during the experiment children related milk to cow, spoon to the soup as they have already learned these words and have already drawn associations to remember them better.

Hearing new words, a child will draw parallels between the words that he has already learned. So, when a child hears the word sheep, he will make a relation between milk, cow, and sheep (Hansen and Markman 593). According to the approach of the mutual exclusivity assumption, children choose an unknown object as a reference for the new word, because it is believed by default that one object belongs to the same category, and therefore, should be labeled. Consequently, the new word belongs to the unknown object. During the experiment, the children aged three and four were playing with two objects, namely known (the car) and unknown.

After that, the experimenter asked a child to give him an object using a new artificial word. In all the cases, children gave an unknown object. However, when the experimenter asked “can you give it to me?” children gave a car to the experimenter (Hansen and Markman 594).

A number of recent researches prove that the ability of a child to acquire new words is dependent on the native language (Syrett, Musolino, and Gelman 146). Children learn words according to some patterns; however, these mechanisms differ in children with different native languages. The languages under consideration are English and Korean. The English language is focused on the noun; thus, children pay more attention to objects, whereas the languages from the Asian group, Korean or Japanese, are orientated on the verb, and that is, children are more focused on actions (Syrett, Musolino, and Gelman 153).

During the experiment, children were checked for the ability to learn new words. The participants were showed pictures and according to the eye-tracking technologies, the researchers realized when the child recognizes the new word. The experiment proved that language peculiarities play an essential role in the process of lexical development. Children having English as a native language struggled with acquiring new verbs, whereas Korean children made it with ease (Syrett, Musolino, and Gelman 155). The researchers state that the syntax and structure of the language influence the way children perceive new words.

The process of acquiring new words by children is dependent on the social reasoning. The primary objective of children is to interpret the behavior, actions, and words of the speaker and to relate this information to the unknown objects. According to the theory proposed by John Locke, adults should pay a lot of attention to the glance of children (Parise et al. 843). The experiment was conducted, when children aged two misinterpreted the words because adults told them a new word while children were looking at another unknown object.

For example, when the infant looks at the adult’s face and hears the word ‘biscuit’ he will misinterpret the world ‘biscuit’. Following the ideas described by John Locke and other researchers, the accent should be laid on the objects that the child is looking at (Parise et al. 844). This way, adults can contribute to a positive development and foster the process of the extension of the vocabulary.

In conclusion, it should be pointed out that there are a lot of mechanisms that improve the lexical development of the child. The mechanisms and experiments described in the paper can be considered as one of the most beneficial for implementation. The ability of a child to make associations, categorizations, language peculiarities, and significance of the eye contact should be taken into account as they influence the process of development in an impressive way.

The recent researchers prove that future academic performance and success are highly dependent on the experience the child has during early years. In addition, the ability of children to study, learn new languages, use logic, and critical thinking can be formed in the childhood. Thus, appropriate mechanisms of learning new words should be implemented into the process of education.

Works Cited

Hansen, Mikkel, and Ellen Markman. “Children’s Use of Mutual Exclusivity to Learn Labels for Parts of Objects.” Developmental Psychology 45.2 (2009): 592-596. Web.

Parise, Eugenio, Andrea Handl, Letizia Palumbo, and Angela Friederici. “Influence of Eye Gaze on Spoken Word Processing: An ERP Study with Infants.” Child Development 82.3 (2011): 842-853. Web.

Syrett, Kristen, Julien Musolino, and Rochel Gelman. “How Can Syntax Support Number Word Acquisition?” Language Learning and Development 8.2 (2012): 146-176. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Children's Lexical Development Mechanisms." September 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/childrens-lexical-development-mechanisms/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Children's Lexical Development Mechanisms." September 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/childrens-lexical-development-mechanisms/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Children's Lexical Development Mechanisms'. 5 September.

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