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Research on the Importance of Adult-Child Conversations to Language Development

Posted Aug 06 2009 11:22pm

In the latest LENA Newsletter, the featured expert was Dr. Frederick Zimmerman, chair of the Department of Health Services in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles.  As the lead researcher, he discussed " Teaching by Listening: The Importance of Adult-Child Conversations to Language Development," which was published in the July issue of Pediatrics.  The following summarizes the findings of the study.

The results supported our hypothesis that parent-child interaction is best when it's a two-way street. We found that each additional 1,000 adult words a child was exposed to led to a .44 increase in the child's PLS-normed score, whereas for every additional 100 conversational turns there was a 1.92 increase in the PLS-normed score. For both stimuli, these changes were approximately one standard deviation from the norm. Therefore, in that standardized sense, adult-child conversations were approximately six times as powerful at aiding language development as adult speech input independent of conversational exchanges.


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