In natural settings, infants learn spoken language with the aid of a caregiver who explicitly provides social signals. Although previous studies have demonstrated that young infants are sensitive to these signals that facilitate language development, the impact of real-life interactions on early word segmentation and word–object mapping remains elusive. We tested whether infants aged 5–6 months and 9–10 months could segment a word from continuous speech and acquire a word–object relation in an ecologically valid setting. In Experiment 1, infants were exposed to a live tutor, while in Experiment 2, another group of infants were exposed to a televised tutor. Results indicate that both younger and older infants were capable of segmenting a word and learning a word–object association only when the stimuli were derived from a live tutor in a natural manner, suggesting that real-life interaction enhances the learning of spoken words in preverbal infants.
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