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Pattern Learning Aids Language Development in Kids

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Children’s language development is a learnt skill that is intricately linked to their ability to recognise patterns in their environment, according to research published in Child Development (http://tinyurl.com/j974fof). The study found that children who were better at identifying patterns in non-verbal tasks also had better knowledge of grammar.

A/Prof Evan Kidd from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language said the findings counter traditional theories of language, which argue that grammar cannot be learnt. “For a long time people thought of grammar as some sort of special cognitive system, like a box in our brain that we are born with, but our study shows that language proficiency is associated with learning – which helps to explain why some people pick it up faster than others,” Kidd said. “These findings are exciting because in the long-term they could help us develop strategies to assist children who may not be typically developing for their age.”

The study assessed 68 children aged 6–8 years on two critical tests – one on grammatical knowledge and the other a visual pattern learning task including an exposure phase (where children aren’t asked to learn anything) and a surprise test phase. The results revealed a strong connection between...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.