Storybook reading could help with language

Simple repetition learning techniques could help young children struggling with language to learn vocabulary faster, according to new research.


The European study looked at whether repeated storybook reading could help youngsters with specific language impairment (SLI) retain information and words compared to children developing at the typical rate for their age.

Working with three-year-old German children, the study built on the results of a 2011 study which found pre-school children learnt more new words through story repetition.

In the latest study, researchers from the University of Sussex in the UK and Germany’s Paderborn University discovered similar results were found in children with language impairment.

Tests were carried out with two groups of children on new word retention following identical storybook reading.

Those with SLI fared significantly worse than their peers on the initial word learning tests, but it emerged there was no difference between the two groups just one week later.

Researchers said the results will come as a big boost to parents of SLI children as they indicated that over time they benefit from hearing the same stories over and over again.

“We hope these results will be encouraging to parents of children with SLI,” said Dr Jessica Horst from the University of Sussex.

“Although there is much left to do, these findings are promising and may help us create cost-effective intervention for children with SLI, including interventions that parents can participate in too.”

Professor Katharina Rohlfing, of Paderborn University, said reading a story again and again, and establishing a reading routine, might the best combination.