IRCS Conference Room
Department of Psychology
University of Sheffield
Learning to communicate: the roles of motivation, cognitive abilities and the caregiving environment
Over the first 5 years of life children become remarkably effective communicators. I have been interested in exploring the nature of children’s early communicative skills, the processes that drive development and the predictors of individual differences in linguistic ability. Using examples from preverbal communication, word learning and referential communication, I will explore how early skills emerge as a consequence of 1) the child’s motivation to engage in and repair communicative exchanges, 2) the child’s growing social and cognitive abilities and 3) the scaffolding provided by caregivers in dialogue. The emerging picture is one where children actively seek to refine their model of language, fine tuning their expectations as their experience accrues.