6-1 | Talking It Up


Talking It Up
Play, Language Development, and the Role of Adult Support

Deena Skolnick Weisberg, Jennifer M. Zosh, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff


Play helps children learn language, the authors claim, and they review the evidence for it. They suggest that play benefits children’s language development because it incorporates many of the socially interactive and cognitive elements known to enhance language skills. Although much of this evidence proves correlational, they point to a series of recent intervention studies that offer evidence of a key variable linking play and language: adult support. In particular, guided play during which adults scaffold child-initiated learning seems ideal for developing language skills. Based on this evidence, they argue that understanding the efficacy of play for learning requires paying careful attention to the type of play involved and to its results. Key words: guided play; language skills; play and language development; scaffolding; sociodramatic play; symbolic play