The Effects of Early Language Input, Socioeconomic Status, and Maternal Education on Early Language Development
Norman, Mackenzie Z.
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The purpose of the present study is to investigate the effects of early language input, socioeconomic status, and maternal education on early language development. Specifically, measures of language comprehension in 12-month-old infants are compared based on early language input (using the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) system), socioeconomic status (SES), and maternal education. It was hypothesized that infants who heard more adult speech would show greater language comprehension. Further, it was hypothesized that infants of lower socioeconomic status backgrounds and infants with mothers with lower maternal education would have poorer language comprehension as indicated by two measures of vocabulary comprehension: the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (MCDI) and the looking-while-listening task. Results showed that infants with mothers who had lower maternal education actually performed better on the looking-while-listening task. No relationship was found between maternal education and words understood as indicated by the MCDI. Results indicated that lower SES was associated with better performance on the looking-while-listening task. Findings also showed that lower SES was related to more words understood as indicated by the MCDI. Finally, no relationship was found between the average word counts taken from the LENA system and performance on the looking-while-listening task or words understood as indicated by MCDI reports. These results have important implications for future research about early language development. It is essential to further investigate these relationships so that future interventions can target factors that may contribute to the gap in language.
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