Research

We study how children learn language.

We have shared our findings and those of other researchers in the field in How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life (translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Korean, and Chinese). The field knows a great deal now about how to help our children learn language and it has nothing to do with buying videos. Talking with our children and reading to them feeds their language learning machine.

While we call ourselves the Infant Language Project, we focus on more than how children learn language. We also study what young children know about geometric forms like squares and triangles and how they develop their spatial and early mathematical skills. We are part of an effort to understand how learning begins in the STEM disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

We also study how children learn from play. In Celebrate the Scribble: Appreciating Children's Art (Crayola Beginnings Press), we show how play with ordinary pencil and paper feeds into the development of writing and early literacy. In our award-winning book Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less (Rodale, 2003 – translated into Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and Portuguese), we describe how young children learn in a variety of domains. Our goal is to reassure parents that they can have smart and well-adjusted children without breaking the bank!

What does good early education look like? Our last book, A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence (Oxford University Press) shares the research on how play and playful learning promote learning in preschool and kindergarten. For children to succeed in the 21st century, we need to encourage our children to play and our schools to teach in an engaging way that promotes what we call the 6Cs – collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence.

Research at the Infant Language Project Research at the Infant Language Project
Other current research questions:
  • Can infants tell the difference between actions?
  • Can they group actions into meaningful categories?
  • Do the specific patterns of the language the child is learning influence the language-learning process?
  • What do children know about grammar?
  • Does their knowledge of grammar help them learn verbs?
  • How does the understanding of social intention influence verb learning?
  • When do children start understanding verbs in a metaphorical sense?