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Communication patterns between internationally adopted children and their mothers: Implications for language development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2011

The Montreal Children's Hospital
McGill University
Concordia University
McGill University


This study presents findings on patterns of communication between internationally adopted children and their mothers in order to better understand the nature of these interactions and their influence on language learning. We examined maternal language use and joint attention behaviors of mothers and their children in 21 mother–child pairs: 10 pairs included children adopted from China living in francophone families, and 11 included francophone children living with their biological families; all were matched for socioeconomic status, sex, and age. The children were, on average, 15 months of age at initial testing when they were video-taped with their mothers for purposes of describing the mothers’ language use and the mothers’ and children's joint attention behaviors. Vocabulary development was assessed at 15 and again at 20 months of age using the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory. The results support the conclusion that adoptive mothers play an active role in promoting and maintaining joint attention and that the redirecting style they used the most and that correlated with their children's later vocabulary development contrasts with the following style that correlates with vocabulary development in nonadopted children raised in mainstream North American families.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011 

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