Joint Attention and Language Development

Lauren B. Adamson & Nevena Dimitrova

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

Joint Attention and Language Development

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  • Joint attention occurs when a person actively attends to an object or event shared with a social partner. If the person is a young child and the social partner is a caregiver, experiences during periods of joint attention may facilitate development, including the acquisition and use of emerging language skills. A growing body of research supports—as well as qualifies—the claim that a child's joint attention is linked to early language development. Moreover, it documents how joint attention deficits and delays can have profound effects on early language learning and how these problems may be ameliorated by interventions that specifically target joint attention.

    The importance of shared activities for language acquisition has long been highlighted in social-constructivist theories of symbol development. Lev Vygotsky set the stage by ...

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