Nivedita Mani and Lena Ackermann (2018)

Why do children learn the words they do?

Child Development Perspectives, 12(4):253-257.

Most children can produce a few words by the end of their first year and rapidly acquire almost 30 times as many words in the following year. Although this general pattern remains the same for children learning different languages, the words individual children know are considerably different. In this article, we consider the possibility that children are an important source of variability in early vocabulary acquisition in the context of curiosity‐driven approaches to language learning. In particular, we review research that supports two interrelated claims: that what children know and what children are interested in interact in shaping what children learn. We suggest that this, as well as the possibility that children are motivated intrinsically to learn language, sets the stage for early vocabulary learning.