New research from a team of psychologists at the University of Miami finds that preschoolers produce the same amount of language whether or not they are wearing masks. Researchers used a device which tracks the number of language sounds coming from the person who wears it, in order to monitor the language of two classes of preschoolers. When they compared the class from early 2020 (pre-Covid pandemic) with the class of teachers and children who wore masks, they found no change in the children’s ability to learn and produce language. The study also included children with hearing loss, who often exhibit language delays. While they anticipated that mask wearing might affect these students most, they found no difference in the amount of language spoken by this group.
Between ages 3 and 5 years is a very significant period for language development, so it is encouraging to see evidence that even when mask-wearing is necessary, young children can experience the social and developmental benefits gained from being in preschool, without any negative effects on their language learning.
For more details on this study, check out the article here.