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Abstract

It is well established that variation in caregivers’ speech is associated with language outcomes, yet little is known about the learning principles that mediate these effects. This longitudinal study (n = 27) explores whether Spanish-learning children's early experiences with language predict efficiency in real-time comprehension and vocabulary learning. Measures of mothers’ speech at 18 months were examined in relation to children's speech processing efficiency and reported vocabulary at 18 and 24 months. Children of mothers who provided more input at 18 months knew more words and were faster in word recognition at 24 months. Moreover, multiple regression analyses indicated that the influences of caregiver speech on speed of word recognition and vocabulary were largely overlapping. This study provides the first evidence that input shapes children's lexical processing efficiency and that vocabulary growth and increasing facility in spoken word comprehension work together to support the uptake of the information that rich input affords the young language learner.