Frequently Asked Questions concerning the StarWords project



Why should I consider taking part in the study?

Parents and children’s involvement in projects such as ours is necessary to expand knowledge about language development (also that of bilingual children) and, consequently, to improve the standards of diagnosis and help children whose language development is not progressing properly. However, we want every family participating in the project to feel rewarded for their effort. That is why we direct you to podcasts and popular articles written by scientists, from which you will learn more about what scientific research says about the development (not only linguistic) of young children.


Where can I find podcasts and articles about child development?

Links to all materials can be found in the "Knowledge" tab.


I have two children aged 0-24 months. Can I enter the words of both of them in the app?

Yes! In the app, you can add as many children as you have (provided they are aged 0-24 months). Children can be added by clicking on "Profile" in the bottom menu. When entering children's words, just make sure to check which child's profile you're entering the word on. Also, you will also be asked to complete information (e.g. on early development, language environment) for both children.


Why are you looking for children of this age - 0-24 months?

We are committed to examining the early linguistic development of children, and to achieve this, we want to collect data on children who have not yet started, are just starting or have recently started speaking. Parents of children who do not yet produce words will be able to answer various questions about their child's development (e.g. cooing, crawling) and enter their children's first words just as they begin to appear. On the other hand, parents of children who already speak (or maybe even say quite a lot) will also be able to enter their children's first sentences.


Is the app intended only for parents of Polish, Polish-English and Polish-Norwegian children?

The app was originally created mainly for Polish, Polish-English and Polish-Norwegian families, but we have adapted it to the needs of families speaking other languages ​​and multilingual families in various language configurations.


Why should I agree to receiving notifications from the app?

The app will use notifications to remind you to regularly write in your child's words. Besides, some of our questions about your child's development will come to you in the form of notifications.


Should I enter every word once or write down every single use of a word by my child?

Write in each word only once! For example, if your child has just started saying "doggy", you only need to enter the word "doggy" once in the app. Moreover, if you try to type the word "doggy" again, the app will inform you that the word has already been entered.


Until recently my child used to say "woof woof" to mean a dog, now they say "dog". How should I write it in the app?

The words that children say change dynamically! After you write in your child's word (for example, "woof woof"), we will ask you later if your child still uses the word. You will be able to choose from "yes", "yes, but it changed slightly" or "no". After selecting "yes, but it changed slightly" you will be able to edit the form or meaning of the word. Remember, your child's words can change form (e.g. become more like the adult version, such as "dog") or meaning (e.g. "woof woof" previously meant all four-legged animals, but now the meaning has narrowed down to dogs).


We joined the project at a point where my child already talks a lot. Do I have to write in all of the words my child has used till now, along with the approximate dates when they were first spoken?

By design, the application is designed to enter new words on a regular basis. If you start using the app at a time when your child is already using many words, you do not need to enter them into the app. Feel free to enter new words or sentences as they appear for the first time. However, if you have the time and you want to complete the child's words retrospectively, feel free to do so - the date of the appearance of the word can be set back (you can use an approximate date).


“Add additional user” option - why would I invite someone else to enter my child's words?

You may want the other parent to help you write down your child's new words. You can also invite grandparents, a nanny or a teacher to write your child's words - this is especially important if they use a different language towards the child (other than yours). It is important to add users who have constant contact with the child and can actually add something new / important. You can add up to three people who will write in your child’s new words. If you change your mind, you can delete the additional user at any time. 


Can the additional user, such as a nanny or a teacher, see all the information about my child?

No, the additional user with the role of a babysitter/nanny/teacher sees the child's name and words that they write themselves (they do not see the words that you or the other parent enter, or your answers in the questionnaires and forms). On the other hand, the parent sees the words entered by other users.


What is meant under "child's languages" - what should I enter there?

We mean the languages ​​that the child has regular contact with. For example, this can be the language(s) the child hears at home (e.g. the language(s) ​​in which parents or siblings speak to the child), the language(s) of the grandparents, nannies, and other care-takers who regularly look after the child. It can also be the language(s) used in the nursery / playgroup / kindergarten most of the time. It is important that it is the language in which someone actually speaks to the child, so it is not, for example, the language in which the child watches cartoons or occasionally reads a book.


What is neologism? How is a neologism different from a word?

A made-up word (neologism) is a word created by the child. The child could not have heard the word, because it does not exist in a standard language. Children often create their own made-up words, e.g. "jumpoline" for trampoline (made up from the verb "jump"). Sometimes those made-up words can be completely new and not related to the real word, e.g. "fe-fe" for fruit. Parents may be not sure whether their child actually made up a word, or just changed its phonetic form (e.g. calling an orange an "onge"). Such changed words (sometimes far from their standard forms) may also be treated as made-up words.


I can enter a "multiword phrase" in the app - do you mean complete sentences?

We mean the child's utterances consisting of more than one word, e.g. "give milk", "mum here". More complex sentences (e.g. "I did not give John a kitty") are also multiword phrases, but some multiword phrases (especially the first utterances) may not be “complete” sentences in a grammatical sense, eg "yum here".


My child distorts words, e.g. speaks in an ungrammatical way or changes a sound. Should I enter the word as it is spoken by the child or should I write in the "corrected" version?

This is very important - write your child's words exactly as they sound. However, in the "Meaning" field, enter the "corrected" version - so that we can understand what the word means.


In addition to words, you ask a series of other questions, e.g. about the postal address, parent's education, early development (e.g. birth weight) or the number of children living in the same house. Why do you need all this information not directly related to words?

Each of this information allows us to better understand the impact of the child's environment on their language development. Data such as postal addresses allows us to determine from which regions of a given country our users are, and whether we were able to reach many parts of a given country with the study. Other factors, such as the early development of a child, parental education, whether the child has siblings (including step-siblings), or even sleep patterns or breastfeeding, can potentially affect children's language development. We want to investigate these various factors as closely as possible to determine if and how much they influence the language development of both monolingual and bilingual children. Thanks to this knowledge, we will be able to prepare specific recommendations for parents and practitioners on how to support children's language development.


What will happen to the information obtained during the study?

The study is confidential and the collected data will only be used for scientific purposes. We maintain full confidentiality of the collected data, and the data are stored on servers located in the European Union. Results will always be presented collectively (e.g. in scientific articles or presentations). We do not distribute the individual data to any third parties. Your contact details (e.g. email address) will allow us to communicate with you during the project, will be confidential and will not be used without your knowledge and consent. The full text of the consent and the GDPR clause is available here.


Can I opt out of the study?

It is possible to withdraw from the study at any time without any consequences. We do not require a reason for resignation. If you resign from participation in the project, you will be able to delete the data entered in the app, thus deleting the data from the project database. By deleting the data, the data entered by you in the app will no longer be available to you (in the app) or to us (in the project database).


If you haven’t found the answer to your question, write to us! projekt.starwords@psych.uw.edu.pl