A candidate process for explaining the rapid vocabulary acquisition during the preschool years is "fast mapping," children's ability to sketch partial maps of a word's meaning after brief exposure. The present study examines this process for learning multiple words, testing the hypothesis that children's attention to the information critical for quickly mapping multiple words onto their referents depends on the alternatives available when the words are introduced. Fifty-eight 40-month-old children participated in one of two conditions. In both conditions, each trial for novel Word #1 presented a novel object and three familiar ones. The conditions differed in the object choices presented when novel Word #2 was introduced. Although the same information was available to children in both conditions, younger children showed significantly better learning of the new words in the successive condition than in the concurrent condition. Implications of this for age-related differences and for teaching strategies are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology