Learning new words…

Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

Children may learn new words better when they learn them in the context of other words they are just learning – according to research from the University of East Anglia.

Eighty two children took part in the study. In two experiments the team taught them some new words for things they couldn’t name – such as honey-dippers and strainers. Dr Samuelson said: “We practiced these new words until they knew the honey-dipper was called a ‘zeb’ and the strainer was a ‘yok’. We then showed them a new thing – a bird toy – in the context of either the objects they knew well (a ball and a car) or things they had only just learned to name (the ‘zeb’ honey-dipper and ‘yok’ strainer).

“When we asked them to get the ‘blick’, they were good at linking this new word to the bird-toy when it was presented with the familiar things, and with the just learned things.”

But, after a five minute colouring break, the children were not so good at remembering what a ‘blick’ was when they had learned it in the context of objects they already knew. (and did better when they had initially leaned the word in the context of the less well-known things — the ‘zeb’ honey dipper and the ‘yok’ strainer). “We had expected that a stronger knowledge of familiar words would be better for learning new words, but we found the opposite was true” claim the researchers.

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“It seems counterintuitive, but it is perhaps because the less well-known items don’t compete with the new words as much. If they learn new words in the context of playing with well-known items such as a ball, book or car, they don’t process the new word as much.” (1)

Remembering things. Learning new things. Forgetting others.

The best way to learn is to unlearn.

The best way to remember new things is to forget the old ones.

New things will then become old.

And soon, they will too be forgotten in the quest for knowledge.

Babies we will be once more.

To view the cosmos as it is.

At the moment we are old and die…

And for the first time we will see.

That this is not the first time we see…

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