We investigated whether learning an artificial language at 17 months was predictive of children’s natural language vocabulary and grammar skills at 54 months. Children at 17 months listened to an artificial language containing non-adjacent dependencies, and were then tested on their learning to segment and to generalise the structure of the language. At 54 months, children were then tested on a range of standardised natural language tasks that assessed receptive and expressive vocabulary and grammar. A structural equation model demonstrated that learning the artificial language generalisation at 17 months predicted language abilities – a composite of vocabulary and grammar skills – at 54 months, whereas artificial language segmentation at 17 months did not predict language abilities at this age. Artificial language learning tasks – especially those that probe grammar learning – provide a valuable tool for uncovering the mechanisms driving children’s early language development.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 18 Sept 2023|