Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Deb Roy: The birth of a word

There have been many studies about how children learn to talk, focusing on the best ways to "teach," a child new words and language in general. In this incredible video, MIT researcher Deb Roy presents the first findings published more thoroughly in MIT's "Technology Review." In the study researchers applied advanced technology to, not only record video and audio of his child over months, but to also analyze all this information in a way that was not previously possible.

One of the most breathtaking moments of this video is when he shows the process of his his child learning to say "water." At around 5:00 minutes in, there is a montage of all the instances over a period of six months when then child goes from saying "gaga" to saying the word "water."

Another thing that Dr. Roy points out is that according to the data collected it is not just the child who is learning from caregivers, but they too are learning from the child. Through the information gathered, they were able to deduce that the critical point when a child learns a word coincides with the moment when the parent is able to express that word in the simplest most accessible way. Among the many implications such a finding can have, this also confirms why it is so important to communicate with a child at their level of understanding.

Deb Roy also explains how this technology is also being used to understand communication in the age of social networking and mass media. This will be a priceless tool for understanding linguistics. The presentation concludes with an incredible video of father and son exclaiming, "wow" the very moment the child takes his first steps. It is incredible to imagine how many "wow" moments can go by unnoticed when children are not given the right amount of attention.

1 comment: