LivingDo you hesitate? Parents' doubts when speaking help their...

Do you hesitate? Parents' doubts when speaking help their children learn

nacer-inviernoResearchers at the University of Rochester in New York (United States) have concluded thatthe doubts and fillers like “eh” or “umm” that parents use when expressing themselves help babies to learn language more effectively. The work is published in the digital edition of the magazineDevelopmental Science.

The study authors state thathesitating to pronounce or choose a word sends a signal to the baby that something new is to be taught, and that therefore you should pay attention. According to Richard Aslin, one of the authors of the work, young children have a lot of information to process while listening to an adult speak, including many words that they have never heard before. If a child’s brain waits until a new word is said, and then tries to figure out what it means after the fact, it becomes a much more difficult task and the child misses what comes next. However, in experiments they showed that when the adult hesitates and says “look at that … umm …” the child instinctively looks at the image of the unknown object longer. This effectonly appears in children older than two years, since according to the authors younger children have not yet learned the fact that fillers tend to precede new or unknown words.

“We are not saying that parents should add fillers to their speech, but it is good for them to know that using these verbal pauses is positive, that these expressions of doubt are informative,” explains Celeste Kidd, co-author of the study.

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