Social environments shape children’s language experiences, strengthening language processing and building vocabulary
How does language experience influence the development of language skills known to be critical for academic success? In this chapter, we build on a long history of research examining sources of variability in children’s lexical development, and offer a new perspective that focuses on the development of efficiency in real-time language processing. Examining origins of individual differences in language proficiency, we review new research showing that the amount and quality of child-directed speech in infancy contributes to the development of language processing skills, which in turn facilitate vocabulary growth. These findings reveal that early language experience can have cascading effects for later learning and school success.