Read With Me

Researching the best way to learn a language after a native tongue has taken hold

Read With Me
A child reads a large format magazine while sitting on a bench with a black and white dog. This image is in the public domain. / Courtesy Wikimedia

You can almost hear the synapses firing while watching an adult read to a young child—language development is rapid-fire.

But once kids settle into a mother tongue, how they pick up language changes.

Research by assistant professor of psychology Kirsten Read, along with former students Paloma D. Contreras ’19, Bianca Rodriguez ’15, and Jessica Jara ’16, found that immersion—flooding a child over 4 with nonnative language—may not always be the best way to increase their vocabulary in a new-to-them language.

Rather kids like to “code-switch,” or move between a language they are more comfortable with and one they are learning.

The group conducted their research using storybooks featuring vocabulary in both languages and compared learning with children reading single-language books in their non-native tongue.

Learn more about Read’s research or volunteer your child to participate in a study by visiting the read lab’s blog.

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