Natural Language Input: Maternal Education, Socioeconomic Deprivation, and Language Outcomes in Typically Developing Children


Objective. The study examined the differences in language input related to family factors (maternal level of education, MLE, and socioeconomic level of deprivation, SLD) and the association with language outcomes in typically developing children. Design. Twenty children were recruited from eight early childhood centers. Language inputs were audiotaped using LENA® technology for two weekend days. Quantity of language input was analyzed using LENA® which calculates the number of adult words (AWs), and adult-child conversational turns (CTs). Four 5-minute LENA® recording segments were transcribed and coded, and parental language strategies were classified as: optimal, moderate, or sub-optimal for language development. Each child’s receptive and expressive language was assessed using Preschool Language Scales (PLS). Results. Spearman correlations indicated significant positive associations between number of AWs/hour and CTs/hour, and a negative association between sub-optimal strategies and language outcomes. Mann-Whitney U tests indicated significantly high number of AWs/hour and CTs/hour for High MLE comparing with Low MLE, and in Low SLD comparing with High SLD groups. Use of sub-optimal language strategies was significantly lower for families with High MLE versus Low MLE and for Low SLD versus High SLD groups. Conclusions. Fewer number of AWs, CTs, and higher use of sub-optimal language strategies are associated with low MLE, high SLD and weaker language outcomes. These results highlight the importance of the quantity of daily oral interaction and the use of optimal language strategies to develop strong language skills in their young children. Parents should be informed how they could interact with their children for better language development.

Author Information
Nuzhat Sultana, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Lena Wong, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Suzanne C. Purdy, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2019
Stream: Learning Environments

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