Posted on 5 January 2024
Prof. Tamar Keren-Portnoy spoke to hundreds of English Language A-level students in a day-long conference organised by the EMC (English and Media Centre) charity on December 6th, 2023. A-level students from all over the country took part in this day of enrichment talks, contributing very interesting and thoughtful input. Tamar spoke of what babies learn from their own babble, and of the new speech-sound intervention that she and her colleagues are piloting with babies with Down syndrome.
What does moving your jaw muscles have to do with memory, mind and language? A look at child language development:
I will describe past research which shows that actions and gestures that we think of as ‘just’ physical, unrelated to ideas and abstract meanings, affect how babies listen to language, what they pay attention to, and how they learn words. I will discuss these findings in the context of the debate between the usage-based and the nativist approach to language development. I will then describe how the insights from this research led us to design a new intervention to support speech and language in babies with Down syndrome and show results from the first study to pilot this intervention.