Research: Facilitating Language Development in Infants & Children
Bernhardt BM, Kemp N, Werker JF. Early word-object associations and later language development. First Language. 2007; 27(4): 315-328.
This study found that word-object association performance at 17 or 20 months, measured by the Switch task, was related to scores on standardized tests of language comprehension and production up to two and a half years later. The authors believe these findings warrant further investigation of the Switch task as a tool for the early identification of language delays.
DeThorne LS, Johnson CJ. When “Simon Says” doesn’t work: Alternatives to imitation for facilitating early speech development. Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2009;1 8: 133-145.
This article provides health professionals with six evidence-based strategies to facilitate early speech development in young children who are not readily imitating sounds.
Kidd C, White KS, Aslin RN. Toddlers use speech disfluencies to predict speakers’ referential intentions. Developmental Science. 2011; 14(4): 925-934.
In this study, researchers found that 2-year-old children were able to use speech disfluencies (i.e. filled pauses ‘uh’ and ‘um’) to determine a speaker’s intended referent.
Goodwyn SW, Acredolo LP, Brown CA. Impact of symbolic gesturing on early language development. J Nonverbal Behav. 2000; 24(2): 81-103.
This study assessed the effect of encouraging the production of symbolic gestures on verbal language development in hearing 11-month-old infants. Authors concluded that the use of symbolic gestures does not impede, and may in fact facilitate, verbal development.
Jones HA, Horn EM, Warren SF. The effects of motor skill acquisition on the development of intentional communication. J Early Interv. 1999; 22(1): 25-37.
Researchers evaluated the effect of motor skills intervention on communication development in four young children with neuromotor impairments. All four subjects increased communication behaviors after intervention, and maintained this trend during the follow-up period. Authors conclude that motor skills training has a stable effect on the development of communication skills.
Jones SS. Imitation or exploration? Young infants’ matching of adults’ oral gestures. Child Dev. 1996; 67(5): 1952-1969.
In this study, researchers explored the motivation behind infants’ tongue protrusions in response to adults’ tongue protrusions, a reaction often interpreted as imitation. Results indicate that this reaction may actually be a reflection of visual interest and oral exploration.
Lebedeva GC, Kuhl PK. Sing that tune: Infants’ perception of melody and lyrics and the facilitation of phonetic recognition in songs. Infant Behav Dev. 2010; 33(4): 419-430.
Researchers assessed 11-month-old infants’ perception of phonetic content and pitch content in songs, and found that phonetic information takes precedent over pitch. Furthermore, they found that exaggerated pitch patterns in songs may facilitate recognition of the phonetic information within them.
Legerstee M, Markova G. Variations in 10-month-old infant imitation of people and things. Infant Behav Dev. 2007; 31(1): 81-91.
This study evaluated 10-month-old infants’ abilities to imitate the actions of human and non-human agents (stuffed animal). Authors conclude that although infants are able to superficially mimic the actions of both humans and non-human agents, they only engage in intentional imitation with people.
Whitehurst GJ, Falco FL, Lonigan CJ, Fischel JE, DeBaryshe BD, Valdex-Maenchaca MC, Caulfield M. Accelerating language development through picture book reading. Dev Psychol. 1988; 24(4): 552-559.
In this study, a group of parents were instructed to change their picture book reading habits (i.e. asking more open-ended questions) with their child for one month. Children whose parents changed their reading routine accordingly scored higher on expressive language tests, and had a higher mean length of utterance, higher frequency of phrases, and lower frequency of single words compared to children in the control group. Differences between the two groups persisted after 9 months.