Why Is Infant Language Learning Facilitated by Parental Responsiveness?

Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Yana Kuchirko, Lulu Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parents' responsiveness to infants' exploratory and communicative behaviors predicts infant word learning during early periods of language development. We examine the processes that might explain why this association exists. We suggest that responsiveness supports infants' growing pragmatic understanding that language is a tool that enables intentions to be socially shared. Additionally, several features of responsiveness-namely, its temporal contiguity, contingency, and multimodal and didactic content-facilitate infants' mapping of words to their referents and, in turn, growth in vocabulary. We close by examining the generalizability of these processes to infants from diverse cultural communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-126
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • infancy
  • language development
  • parenting
  • responsiveness
  • word learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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