Skip to content

    Children's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Why Toddlers' Vocabulary Grows Quickly

    Repetition, Challenging Words May Lead to Boom in Toddlers' Vocabulary
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Aug. 3, 2007 -- Children's vocabulary often booms in the second year of life, and new research may show how that happens.

    Bob McMurray, PhD, of the University of Iowa's psychology department tackled the topic of toddlers' talk. He didn't chat with kids or their parents. Instead, McMurray created a mathematical model to identify the factors that prompt kids' word spurts.

    McMurray considered the 2,000 most frequently spoken words of the English language. The list includes easy words and more challenging ones.

    McMurray theorizes that there's a tipping point at which children's vocabulary typically takes off.

    According to McMurray, kids don't necessarily reach that tipping point by learning one word, then the next, and then another. Rather, it's a matter of learning a mix of words at once -- including simple and not-so-simple words -- and repeating them.

    "Children are going to get that word spurt guaranteed, mathematically, as long as a couple of conditions hold," Murray says in a University of Iowa news release.

    "They have to be learning more than one word at a time, and they must be learning a greater number of difficult or moderate words than easy ones," McMurray explains. "Using computer simulations and a mathematical analysis, I found that if those two conditions are true, you always get a vocabulary explosion."

    McMurray's findings appear in an article in the journal Science.

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
     
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.
     

    worried kid
    fitArticle
    jennifer aniston
    Slideshow
     
    Measles virus
    Article
    sick child
    Slideshow
     

    babyapp
    New
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow
     
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
    Child Coughing or Sneezing into Elbow
    Article