Children and Adolescents Enjoy Learning New Words

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalExpress.

New research led by academics at Royal Holloway, University of London, published in Developmental Science, suggests that children and adolescents remain excited by learning new words, all the way until adulthood.

The study, led by Professor Saloni Krishnan from the Department of Psychology, investigated how much children and adolescents enjoy learning the meaning of new words, as well as how well they retain them over time. This would suggest that such learning can be intrinsically motivating.

Recent research has demonstrated that adults experience a feeling of reward or “buzz” when they successfully learn new words which significantly enhances long-term memory retention of newly acquired words.

The study involved 345 children between the ages of 10 to 18. The children were given 40 self-paced trials, which involved pairing two sentences to make sense of the new word they were learning.

Children were tasked with working out the meaning of a new word by making a prediction based on the sentence context. They were then asked to rate their emotions, including confidence, happiness, and excitement, after every question.

The research found that not only did the children and adolescents learn and retain the words, but they also found the experience of successfully learning to be enjoyable. This is the first demonstration that language learning is intrinsically rewarding in children and provides clues to why we seek out and enjoy learning words (unlike our closest evolutionary cousins the chimpanzees).

“Our findings conclusively demonstrate children find such learning intrinsically rewarding—and don’t need external rewards like validation. I think the experience of enjoyment is an important signal to seek out new knowledge and build our vocabulary.

Source: MedicalXpress

Help us reach the next generation of families

Back to Top

[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

  • Support Our Mission

    HomeWord is non-profit, donor supported ministry. If you would like to partner with HomeWord in our effort to help more parents and families you can make a donation. Your investment will allow us to expand this ministry by offering more resources to families and churches in need.

  • Contact Information

    • HomeWord
      PO Box 1600
      San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Send us an email

    • 800-397-9725
      (M-F: 8:30am-5pm PST)