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Kids' gestures foretell better vocabularies

Language acquisition may begin even before children start saying many words

CHICAGO — Anyone who has witnessed a 3-year-old imitate a rude hand signal from his car seat knows that young children are perfectly capable of picking up gestures from adults. New research suggests that 14-month-old children who gesture more will go on to have higher vocabularies by the time kindergarten begins, researchers reported February 12 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The research also appears in the Feb. 13 Science.

“Children on the first day of school vary greatly in vocabulary,” Susan Goldin-Meadow of the University of Chicago, coauthor of the study, said in a news briefing February 12. “The question is, why?”

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