This study is about the role of elicited verbal imitation in toddler word learning. Forty-eight toddlers were taught eight nonwords linked to referents. During training, they were asked to imitate the nonwords. Naming of the referents was tested at three intervals (one minute later [uncued], five minutes, and 1-7 days later [cued]) and recognition at the last two intervals. Receptive vocabulary, nonword repetition, and expressive phonology were assessed. The accuracy of elicited imitation during training predicted naming at one and five minutes, but not 1-7 days later. Neither nonword repetition nor expressive phonology was associated with naming over time but extant vocabulary predicted performance at all time intervals. We hypothesize that elicited imitation facilitates word learning in its earliest stages by supporting encoding of the word form into memory and allowing practice of the articulatory-phonological plan. At later stages, vocabulary facilitates integration of the word form into the lexical network.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language