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What Influences Language Development?

social psychology, developmental psychology, psychology podcast

Today’s episode of The Psychology World Podcast is on developmental psychology and social psychology. So we’ll be looking at language development.

What Influences Language Development?

Well, it turns out that a lot of different factors can and do influence a child’s language development, but let’s focus on a few key factors.

Therefore, two key factors that can influence language development are the quantity of language input to the child as well as the quality of language input to the child.

Quantity of Language Input:

One of the best ways to help a child speak is to talk in front of them and to them, but this is problematic as adults may differ hugely when talking to a child. In terms of words per hour, sentences per hour and sentence length when talking to a child.

Nonetheless, why is this quantity important for language development?

It’s important because the variance in the quantity of language predicts a child’s vocabulary development and processing speed. (Marchman &Frenald, 2008; Hurtado, Marchman and Fernald, 2008)

In other words, the higher the quantity of input to a child. The better vocabulary and processing speed they should have.

Finally, this is true for teachers and children in the classroom as well. (Huttnlocho, Vasilyeva, Cynerman and Levine, 2002)

Quality of language input:

Although, there must be high quality in language input as well as a high quantity of language input.

One of the main reasons why quality is important is because the lack of quality in language input can explain the variance in a child’s poor language development that is usually attributed to a child’s poor socioeconomic status.

Nonetheless, another main and extremely important reason why quality is important is that the role of interaction with a child must be interpersonal.

I mean if you merely put a child in front of a TV; a possibly higher quantity of language input; then the child will still struggle with language development.

As Roseberry, H Hirsh-Pasek, Parish-Morris and Golinkoff (2009) found that only if someone is live sitting beside a child describing the TV can a child learn from a TV.

Cognitive Brain Systems Involved in Language Development:

As a quick final section on language development, I wanted to quickly mention that a lot of different brain systems are involved in language. For instance,

· Auditory and visual system as you need to match what you hear to what you see

· Memory system as you need to remember what you’ve learned and seen

· Attention system- pay attention to what people are saying

· Processing system- link words to meaning

· Inferencing system- interpret the message

Parting Note:

We cannot forget that human communication is a two-way street so it partially relies on the child’s socio-cognitive skills as well.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s psychology podcast episode on development and social psychology. If you want to learn more about developmental psychology, then please check out my new Development Psychology book Second Edition.

Have a great day,


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