ERIC Number: EJ1124467
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
Exposure to Multiple Languages Enhances Communication Skills in Infancy
Liberman, Zoe; Woodward, Amanda L.; Keysar, Boaz; Kinzler, Katherine D.
Developmental Science, v20 n1 Jan 2017
Early exposure to multiple languages can enhance children's communication skills, even when children are effectively monolingual (Fan, Liberman, Keysar & Kinzler, 2015). Here we report evidence that the social benefits of multilingual exposure emerge in infancy. Sixteen-month-old infants participated in a communication task that required taking a speaker's perspective to understand her intended meaning. Infants were presented with two identical toys, such as two cars. One toy was mutually visible to both the infant and the speaker, but the other was visible only to the infant and was blocked from the speaker's view by an opaque barrier. The speaker requested the mutually visible toy and we evaluated whether infants understood the speaker's request. Whereas monolingual infants were at chance in choosing between the two toys, infants with multilingual exposure reliably chose the toy the speaker requested. Successful performance was not related to the degree of exposure to other languages, suggesting that even minimal multilingual exposure may enhance communication skills.
Descriptors: Communication Skills, Infants, Toys, Monolingualism, Multilingualism, Comparative Analysis
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH); National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: R01HD070890