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The benefit of simultaneously encountered exemplars and of exemplar variability to verb learning

  • Simon SNAPE (a1) and Andrea KROTT (a1)

Young children are conservative when extending novel verbs to novel exemplars. We investigated whether multiple, simultaneously presented exemplars would aid young children's verb learning, as well as the importance of exemplar variability. Three-year-olds were taught novel verbs, while viewing either one action-scene featuring a novel action performed on a novel object, or two action-scenes side-by-side in which the action performed was the same but the object varied, or two action-scenes side-by-side in which no aspect of the scenes varied. They were asked to extend the novel verbs to one of two scenes: one that maintained the action and one that maintained the object. Findings indicated that children were only able to extend verbs correctly after viewing two action-scenes in which the content varied. These findings suggest that simultaneously presented exemplars of a verb can support verb learning in younger children, but only when the content of the exemplars varies.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Simon Snape, School of Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom, B15 2TT. tel: +44 (0)121 414 4903; E-mail:
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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
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