child-directed speech and language development

Child-directed speech and language development

Project information


How can we explain the apparently delayed language development of children whose parents can be said to have a low socioeconomic status (lowSES)? Why does a child with, say, a mother who is on public assistance have a poorer language proficiency than a child with a mother who has a university degree and a professional occupation?

Previous research has shown that the linguistic environment (the language the child hears, the conversations and interactions that adult and child have) of the lowSES child is “poorer” than that of a mid-to-high SES child.

In this project we want to test the hypothesis that this relative poverty of the input is already manifest during the prelinguistic and early linguistic stages of language acquisition: particular aspects of the input make the discrimination of sounds more difficult, and make the segmentation of speech into sounds, and words, and phrases much more difficult.

For this purpose we collect and analyze spontaneous interactions between children and adults from a lowSES background, and compare them with analogous material from children from a mid-to-high background, and from deaf children with a cochlear implant whose parents are thought to be especially motivated to provide an “optimal” linguistic input.

01/12/2011 - 30/11/2015

FWO  (Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Vlaanderen; Scientific Research Fund Flanders)

Vanormelingen, L., & Gillis S. (2014).  Making up for lost time? Comparing volubility and responsiveness by mothers of children with and without cochlear implants.. Poster presented at the 13th International Congress for the Study of Child Language (IASCL 2014), Amsterdam, The Netherlands. PDF
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