Children’s sensitivity to caregiver cues and the role of adult feedback in the developmentof referential communication

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Many studies have examined when children are (in)competent in making appropriate referential choices based on their listeners’ requirements. Traditionally, child-level social-cognitive abilities have been invoked in explaining the increasing sophistication of referential skills with age. However, recent research has generated interest in the contributions of interactive partners and motivations to the developmental process. This chapter presents and critically evaluates research emphasizing the influence of adult behavior and feedback on the development of children’s referential skills. The first section reviews studies examining how children’s skills improve by developing sensitivity to adults’ verbal and non-verbal communicative cues. The second section reviews training studies that investigate how adult feedback affects children’s improvement in referential communication. The third section provides some concluding remarks and future directions.


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