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Journal Article

Success in learning similar-sounding words predicts vocabulary depth above and beyond vocabulary breadth

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McQueen,  James M.
Research Associates, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;

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Van Goch, M. M., Verhoeven, L., & McQueen, J. M. (2018). Success in learning similar-sounding words predicts vocabulary depth above and beyond vocabulary breadth. Journal of Child Language. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0305000918000338.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-E859-6
Abstract
In lexical development, the specificity of phonological representations is important. The ability to build phonologically specific lexical representations predicts the number of words a child knows (vocabulary breadth), but it is not clear if it also fosters how well words are known (vocabulary depth). Sixty-six children were studied in kindergarten (age 5;7) and first grade (age 6;8). The predictive value of the ability to learn phonologically similar new words, phoneme discrimination ability, and phonological awareness on vocabulary breadth and depth were assessed using hierarchical regression. Word learning explained unique variance in kindergarten and first-grade vocabulary depth, over the other phonological factors. It did not explain unique variance in vocabulary breadth. Furthermore, even after controlling for kindergarten vocabulary breadth, kindergarten word learning still explained unique variance in first-grade vocabulary depth. Skill in learning phonologically similar words appears to predict knowledge children have about what words mean.