Preprint version. Published in Child Development, Volume 72, Issue 2, March 1, 2001, pages 416-430.
This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Learning Words through Overhearing, Nameera Akhtar, Jennifer Jipson, and Maureen A. Callanan, Child Development, 72:2, Copyright © 2001 Society for Research and Child Development. Published by Wiley-Blackwell.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Jennifer Jipson was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00287.
Recent research indicates that toddlers can monitor others' conversations, raising the possibility that they can acquire vocabulary in this way. Three studies examined 2-year-olds' (N= 88) ability to learn novel words when overhearing these words used by others. Children aged 2,6 were equally good at learning novel words— both object labels and action verbs—when they were overhearers as when they were directly addressed. For younger 2-year-olds (2,1), this was true for object labels, but the results were less clear for verbs. The findings demonstrate that 2-year-olds can acquire novel words from overheard speech, and highlight the active role played by toddlers in vocabulary acquisition.