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First Steps into Language? Examining the Specific Longitudinal Relations between Walking, Exploration and Linguistic Skills

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Recent empirical evidence demonstrates relationships between motor and language development that are partially mediated by exploration. This is in line with the embodied cognition approach to development that views language as grounded in real-life sensorimotor interactions with the environment. This view implies that the relations between motor and linguistic skills should be specific. Moreover, as motor development initially changes the possibilities children have to explore the environment, initial relations between motor and linguistic skills should become weaker over time. Empirical evidence pertaining to the duration and specificity of these relations is still lacking. The current study investigated longitudinal relations between attainment of walking and the development of several linguistic skills, and tested whether exploration through self-locomotion mediated these relations. Linguistic skills were measured at age 43 months, which is later than the age used in previous studies. Three hypotheses were tested: (1) the relations between walking and language found at younger ages will decrease over time (2) exploration through self-locomotion will remain an important predictor of spatial language (3) no relation will be found between walking, exploration and the use of grammatical and lexical categories and between exploration and general vocabulary. Thirty-one Dutch children took part in a longitudinal study. Parents reported about age of attainment of walking. Exploration through self-locomotion was measured using observations of play with a standard set of toys at age 20 months. Receptive vocabulary, spatial language and use of grammatical and lexical categories were measured at age 43 months using (standard) tests. Results reveal that age of walking does not directly predict spatial language at age 43 months. Exploration through self-locomotion does significantly and completely mediate the indirect effect of age of walking on spatial language. Moreover, neither age of walking nor exploration predict general vocabulary and the use of grammatical and lexical categories. Results support the idea that the initial relations between motor development and linguistic skills decrease over time and that these relations are specific and intrinsically dependent on the information children pick up through the execution of specific motor activities.

No MeSH data available.


Objects used in the observations.
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Figure 1: Objects used in the observations.

Mentions: Exploration behavior and linguistic skills were measured during home visits. Exploration through self-locomotion was measured at age 20 months. The children were filmed while allowed to explore a standard set of objects for 8 min. The set of objects included a hoop (70 cm diameter), a large foam dice (15 cm × 15 cm × 15 cm) and a play tunnel made of polyester (150 cm length and 45 cm diameter). See Figure 1 for a photo of the objects used. The films of children’s interaction with the objects were later edited to remove interruptions (such as stopping to drink). Exploration behavior was then scored based on the first 4 min of uninterrupted play. These 4 min started when the child first made contact with the objects. The duration of 4 min was selected based on pilot coding showing that this duration was both sufficient for most children to interact with all three objects and short enough to prevent children from getting bored and terminating their interaction with the objects. General vocabulary, spatial language and the use of grammatical and lexical categories were measured using playful (standard) tests administered by trained research assistants in a fixed order. The tests of grammatical and lexical categories were administered using a laptop computer. Parental reports were obtained regarding the age of attainment of independent walking. To thank the families for participation, the children were given a small gift at each measurement wave.


First Steps into Language? Examining the Specific Longitudinal Relations between Walking, Exploration and Linguistic Skills
Objects used in the observations.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5037183&req=5

Figure 1: Objects used in the observations.
Mentions: Exploration behavior and linguistic skills were measured during home visits. Exploration through self-locomotion was measured at age 20 months. The children were filmed while allowed to explore a standard set of objects for 8 min. The set of objects included a hoop (70 cm diameter), a large foam dice (15 cm × 15 cm × 15 cm) and a play tunnel made of polyester (150 cm length and 45 cm diameter). See Figure 1 for a photo of the objects used. The films of children’s interaction with the objects were later edited to remove interruptions (such as stopping to drink). Exploration behavior was then scored based on the first 4 min of uninterrupted play. These 4 min started when the child first made contact with the objects. The duration of 4 min was selected based on pilot coding showing that this duration was both sufficient for most children to interact with all three objects and short enough to prevent children from getting bored and terminating their interaction with the objects. General vocabulary, spatial language and the use of grammatical and lexical categories were measured using playful (standard) tests administered by trained research assistants in a fixed order. The tests of grammatical and lexical categories were administered using a laptop computer. Parental reports were obtained regarding the age of attainment of independent walking. To thank the families for participation, the children were given a small gift at each measurement wave.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Recent empirical evidence demonstrates relationships between motor and language development that are partially mediated by exploration. This is in line with the embodied cognition approach to development that views language as grounded in real-life sensorimotor interactions with the environment. This view implies that the relations between motor and linguistic skills should be specific. Moreover, as motor development initially changes the possibilities children have to explore the environment, initial relations between motor and linguistic skills should become weaker over time. Empirical evidence pertaining to the duration and specificity of these relations is still lacking. The current study investigated longitudinal relations between attainment of walking and the development of several linguistic skills, and tested whether exploration through self-locomotion mediated these relations. Linguistic skills were measured at age 43 months, which is later than the age used in previous studies. Three hypotheses were tested: (1) the relations between walking and language found at younger ages will decrease over time (2) exploration through self-locomotion will remain an important predictor of spatial language (3) no relation will be found between walking, exploration and the use of grammatical and lexical categories and between exploration and general vocabulary. Thirty-one Dutch children took part in a longitudinal study. Parents reported about age of attainment of walking. Exploration through self-locomotion was measured using observations of play with a standard set of toys at age 20 months. Receptive vocabulary, spatial language and use of grammatical and lexical categories were measured at age 43 months using (standard) tests. Results reveal that age of walking does not directly predict spatial language at age 43 months. Exploration through self-locomotion does significantly and completely mediate the indirect effect of age of walking on spatial language. Moreover, neither age of walking nor exploration predict general vocabulary and the use of grammatical and lexical categories. Results support the idea that the initial relations between motor development and linguistic skills decrease over time and that these relations are specific and intrinsically dependent on the information children pick up through the execution of specific motor activities.

No MeSH data available.