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Learning Tip: Where Do Toddlers Get Their Words?
Most parents wait impatiently for their child’s first word, listening intently to cooing and babbling. After the first or second word, the learning of new words follows in more rapid succession. What determines the order and choice of these first words? First of all, words that are easier to pronounce are more likely to be included in this group. Words that have beginning letters like p, m, b and n tend to be easier to pronounce, while words beginning with consonant clusters are more difficult (a child might say “pill” for “spill” and “tore” for “store”). Another big influence on spoken word acquisition is importance. For instance, words like “mommy” and “daddy” are important! For English speakers, most first words are nouns. This isn’t surprising considering common child-parent interactions sound like, “Where’s the doggy?” and “Here’s your milk.”
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