Fast mapping skills in the developing lexicon

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2007 Jun;50(3):682-97. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2007/048).


Purpose: This preliminary investigation was a longitudinal study of fast mapping skills in normally developing children, 16-18 months of age. The purpose was to examine the effects of practice on the accessibility of words in lexical memory.

Method: Eight children were taught the names of 24 unfamiliar objects over 12 weekly training sessions. The amount of practice children had with individual words varied as a function of session. Data were compared to a control group of children-matched on productive vocabulary-who were exposed to the same experimental words at the first and last sessions only.

Results: The results showed that for children in the experimental group, extended practice with a novel set of high-practice words led to the rapid acquisition of a second set of low-practice words. Children in the control group did not show the same lexical advantage.

Conclusions: The data suggest that learning some words primes the system to learn more words. Vocabulary development can thus be conceptualized as a continual process of fine-tuning the lexical system to enable increased accessibility to information. Implications for the treatment of children with word-finding difficulties are considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude*
  • Child Development*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Verbal Learning*
  • Visual Perception
  • Vocabulary*