Live Action: Can Young Children Learn Verbs From Video?


  • This research was supported by an National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant 5R01HD050199 and by National Science Foundation Grant BCS-0642529. We thank Nora Newcombe for her valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper and we also thank Wendy Shallcross for her assistance in data collection.

concerning this article should be addressed to Sarah Roseberry, Department of Psychology, Temple University, 1701 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122. Electronic mail may be sent to


The availability of educational programming aimed at infants and toddlers is increasing, yet the effect of video on language acquisition remains unclear. Three studies of 96 children aged 30–42 months investigated their ability to learn verbs from video. Study 1 asked whether children could learn verbs from video when supported by live social interaction. Study 2 tested whether children could learn verbs from video alone. Study 3 clarified whether the benefits of social interaction remained when the experimenter was shown on a video screen rather than in person. Results suggest that younger children only learn verbs from video with live social interaction whereas older children can learn verbs from video alone. Implications for verb learning and educational media are discussed.