Toddlers and vocabulary

Ah, if I were only a toddler again!

Lately, my toddler has been picking up new vocabulary at an amazing rate (as, I understand it, all toddlers do). While I don’t “catch” this learning all of the time, I’ve seen something he does occasionally when learning a new word, and it brings some interesting images to my mind. I thought I’d share:

Yesterday we were at a local state park. We were going to a lake so he and his mother could play in the lake (I’m not a big play-in-the-lake fan). As we were driving along the road looping around the lake, he pointed at it and said “it’s water!” I said, “Yes, that’s right – it is water. That’s actually called a lake.”

He looked at me in the rear view mirror, all seriousness, and said “lake“, then nodded his head once. I repeated it, then he did it again. He then pointed again and said “It’s a lake”; he continued to call it that the rest of the evening.

When he gets that serious expression on his face, it makes me think of some vast, fast-moving machinery in his head, quickly sorting new words right where they need to go in his long term memory. No real effort is needed on his part; he hears a word, the gears crank (quietly!), and the word is his.

This is in stark contrast to how I often feel when learning new words. I’ll read or hear the word; repeat it; think about it; try to use it in a sentence. If I don’t then put it in one of my vocabulary programs to review later, usually, the word is gone within a day or two (sometimes less). Furthermore, often it feels as if my gears are rather creaky, with a few pieces of broke metal thrown in for good measure. Sometimes my brain machinery gets hung up completely on a word or phrase, and doesn’t want to move anymore at all.

Sigh. If only I could be a toddler again, or at least have their language learning abilities. I suppose I’d be up for passing Barney, diapers, etc.

By |2007-07-18T19:49:01+00:00July 18th, 2007|Language Journal, Language Learning|0 Comments

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