Optimal input for language development: Tailor nurture to nature

Angela Xiaoxue He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In acquiring a native language, the input children receive, to an unneglectable extent, shapes the rate of acquisition and the ultimate achievement. This in turn has cascading effects on many aspects of later development, including but not limited to language. Providing optimal input for early language development, therefore, is of major interest to scientists, parents, and educators. This thought paper highlights two less-discussed factors in the formula of optimal input—the balance between input quantity and quality, and the timing of input provision. Correspondingly, two points are made: first, given significant limitations in processing abilities in early development, increased quality is sometimes achieved via decreased quantity; second, endowed with a sleep-mediated memory consolidation system, input provision should consider “sleep” as a reference point in timing. Both points boil down to a central theme that nurture (i.e., input) should be tailored to suit nature; in particular, optimal input should take best advantage of the endowments provided by our nature (e.g., sleep to consolidate memory) and to circumvent the limitations set by nature (e.g., processing limitations).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2269
JournalInfant and Child Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

User-Defined Keywords

  • child language acquisition
  • language input
  • language processing
  • myelination
  • nature and nurture
  • sleep and memory


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