JUL 23, 2016 5:56 PM PDT

Ability to Learn Language is Hindered by Background Noise

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet
Greyerbaby via Pixabay.com

Learning language is a complex process towards a necessary indispensable skill. Children start to form words when they are about 1-years old. By the time they’re 3, they’re speaking in full sentences and telling you what they did that day. 

The act of “learning words is an important skill that provides a foundation for children's ability to achieve academically,” said Brianna McMillan, a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Now, a study found that background noise can thwart a toddler's ability to learn new words.

"Modern homes are filled with noisy distractions such as TV, radio, and people talking that could affect how children learn words at early ages," said McMillan."Our study suggests that adults should be aware of the amount of background speech in the environment when they're interacting with young children," said McMillan.

The researchers assessed 106 children between the ages of 22 and 30 months. They evaluated each toddler's ability to learn new words; and found that a toddler was more successful when his or her surroundings were quiet as opposed to filled with noise. 

"Hearing new words in fluent speech without a lot of background noise before trying to learn what objects the new words corresponded to may help very young children master new vocabulary," said study co-author and psychologist Jenny Saffran. That said, it’s unrealistic to expect a child to grow up in a completely quiet environment, especially when living in an urban environment. "But when the environment is noisy, drawing young children's attention to the sounds of the new word may help them compensate."

The research was published on July 21 in the journal Child Development.

Source: Society for Research in Child development press release via EurekAlert!, wochit,
parents.com, journal study via Child Development 
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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