Online environments not a barrier to preschoolers questions about unknown words
When preschoolers encounter a new word and word meaning, they can quickly link the two items to learn a new word. When not provided with the necessary items to learn a word, preschoolers will drive their own word learning. Previous research revealed that 5-year-olds asked more questions about unknown words than known words, highlighting their active word learning (Janakiefksi et al., 2022). However, it is unclear whether 5-year-olds' active word learning extends to online environments— a crucial question given the growing role of online environments in young children's daily lives. To investigate 5-year-olds’ online active word learning, the current study replicated the procedure in Janakiefski et al. (2022) via Zoom. We instructed participants to move their toys according to 9 known and 9 unknown target action words and recorded participants' questions about word meanings. Online participants (n = 19) asked more questions about unknown words than known words. Across online and in-person environments, we found no differences in 5-year-olds' (n = 38) pattern of question-asking about word meanings. We did find some differences in the types of questions about word meanings that 5-year-olds produced across environments. In-person participants asked more “What” questions (e.g. “What does transpose mean?”). Online participants asked more “Guess” questions (e.g. “Like this?”). Online environments are not a barrier to preschoolers' active word learning, but they could influence the types of requests for word meanings produced by preschoolers.