Once again, research is catching up to what parents, grandparents, and other caring adults in a child’s life know – positive interactions between adult and young child have a lasting impact.
LENA researchers have recently released a paper, “Language Experience in the Second Year of Life and Language Outcomes in Late Childhood,” that confirms what many of us know innately. And that is that back-and-forth talking with babies and toddlers helps build their vocabulary, comprehension, and other language skills, and those skills stick. The paper describes the longest longitudinal study on the relationship between back-and-forth talk and later positive outcomes. Researchers found that “a child’s early language experiences may predict developmental outcomes years later.” In addition, taking conversational turns with a child 18-24 months old was highly correlated with verbal abilities and IQ later on, when they were 9-14 years old.
Back-and-forth talking is sometimes described as “serve and return.” Watch a video and read more.
It’s not just hearing more words that makes the difference, although quantity is important, too. It’s the “words & turns” that make an even bigger difference. Think about it this way: number of words + number of turns = successful language development that lasts.