A toddler's grammar skills begin accelerating at 24 months, a new study has learned. Experts have long debated whether grammar in small children is either a learned or an innate skill and the latest findings have shed more light into the experts' understanding.
In previous studies, experts thought that toddlers learned language by imitating adults. Only this doesn't explain how imitation teaches toddlers when and how to use articles like "a" or "the" in their speech patterns.
In wanting to understand how toddlers develop and improve language, experts conducted a study of their speech patterns and published the findings in the Association for Psychological Science journal. The experts saw that a toddler's grammar skills gradually develop and significantly hasten by 24 months.
Researchers used a method called Bayesian inference to analyze the speech data of 27 toddlers. They learned that "rule-based grammatical knowledge" was more evident in the speech patterns of older toddlers compared to younger toddlers.
The study highlighted how understanding a child's level of grammar can help with how they learn to talk. It also highlighted that how language development is lacking for children under two.
"The ability of humans to acquire and use language is a big difference between us and other species, and it's also one of the biggest scientific puzzles out there," study co-author Professor Michael Frank said, per a Stanford press release. "Studying language acquisition in children is one way for us to try to find out what makes us human."
The professor, however, revealed that more data tracking is needed to have a well-defined conclusion to their study. His team has set up a Wordbank in order to do more work on early language development in children in collaboration with other experts. "We're hoping that once we have those data, we can get a clearer picture of children's early learning," Frank said.
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