Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The relation between teacher input and lexical growth of preschoolers

  • EDMOND P. BOWERS (a1) and MARINA VASILYEVA (a2)

Abstract

The present study examined the growth of receptive lexical skills in preschoolers over an academic year in relation to teacher speech. The participating students were English language learners and their monolingual English-speaking peers from the same classrooms. The measures of teacher input included indicators of the amount of speech (total number of words), lexical richness (number of different word types), and structural complexity (number of words per utterance). These measures were based on a speech sample collected during a classroom observation. For English language learners, vocabulary growth was positively related to the total number of words produced by the teacher, but negatively related to the number of words per utterance. For monolingual speakers, vocabulary growth was positively related to the number of word types produced by the teacher. The findings underscore the importance of considering different aspects of verbal input for understanding individual variability in language growth of preschool students.

Copyright

Corresponding author

ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Edmond P. Bowers, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, 307 Lincoln–Filene Building, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155. E-mail: ed.bowers@tufts.edu

References

Hide All
Amselle, J. (1996). The failure of bilingual education. Washington, DC: Center for Equal Opportunity.
August, D., Carlo, M., Dressler, C., & Snow, C. (2005). The critical role of vocabulary development for English language learners. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20, 5057.
August, D., Carlo, M., Lively, T., Lippman, D., McLaughlin, B., & Snow, C. (1999). Enhancing vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension in English languagelearners. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal.
August, D., & Hakuta, K. (1997). Improving schooling for language minority children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Barnes, S., Gutfreund, M., Satterly, D., & Wells, G. (1983). Characteristics of adult speech which predict children's language development. Journal of Child Language, 10, 6584.
Bauer, D. J., Goldfield, B. A., & Reznick, J. S. (2002). Alternative approaches to analyzing individual differences in the rate of early vocabulary development. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 313335.
Berko-Gleason, J. (1977). Talking to children: Some notes on feedback. In Snow, C. E. & Ferguson, C. A. (Eds.), Talking to children: Language input and acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Clark, P. (1999). Investigating second language acquisition in preschools: A longitudinal study of four Vietnamese-speaking children's acquisition of English in a bilingual preschool. International Journal of Early Years Education, 7, 1724.
Cummins, J. (1981). Age on arrival and immigrant second language learning in Canada: A reassessment. Applied Linguistics, 2, 132149.
Cummins, J., Bismilla, V., Cohen, S., Giampapa, F., & Leoni, L. (2005). Timelines and lifelines: Rethinking literacy instruction in multilingual classrooms. Orbit, 36, 2226.
Cunningham, A. E., & Stanovich, K. E. (1997). Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later. Developmental Psychology, 33, 934945.
De Houwer, A. (1995). Bilingual language acquisition. In Fletcher, P. & MacWhinney, B. (Eds.), The handbook of child language (pp. 219250). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Dickinson, D. K., & McCabe, A. (2001). Bringing it all together: The multiple origins, skills and environmental supports of early literacy. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 16, 186202.
Dickinson, D. K., & Smith, M. W. (1994). Long-term effects of preschool teachers’ book readings on low-income children's vocabulary and story comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 29, 104122.
Dionne, G., Tremblay, R., Boivin, M., Laplante, D., & Perusse, D. (2003). Physical aggression and expressive vocabulary in 19-month-old twins. Developmental Psychology, 39, 261273.
Dulay, H. C., & Burt, M. K. (1974). Natural sequences in child second language acquisition. Language Learning, 24, 3753.
Dunn, L. M., & Dunn, L. M. (1997). Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (3rd ed.). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.
Duursma, E., Romero-Contreras, S., Szuber, A., Proctor, P., Snow, C., August, D., et al. (2007). The role of home literacy and language environment on bilinguals’ English and Spanish vocabulary development. Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 171190.
Espinosa, L. M. (2002). One child, two languages: A guide for preschool educators of children learning English as a second language. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 17, 138140.
Francis, G. (2007). Introduction to SPSS for Windows: V. 15.0 and 14.0 with notes for studentware (5th ed.). Sydney: Pearson Education.
Freebody, P., & Anderson, R. C. (1983). Effects of vocabulary difficulty, text cohesion, and schema availability on reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 18, 277323.
Furrow, D., Nelson, K., & Benedict, H. (1979). Mothers’ speech to children and syntactic development: Some simple relationships. Journal of Child Language, 6, 423442.
Genesee, F., Lindholm-Leary, K., Saunders, W., & Christian, D. (2005). English language learners in U.S. schools: An overview of research findings. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 10, 363385.
Genesee, F., Paradis, J., & Crago, M. B. (2004). Dual language development and disorders: A handbook on bilingualism and second language learning. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Gleitman, L., Newport, E. L., & Gleitman, H. (1984). The current status of the motherese hypothesis. Journal of Child Language, 11, 4379.
Goodman, J. C., Dale, P. S., & Li, P. (2008). Does frequency count? Parental input and the acquisition of vocabulary. Journal of Child Language, 35, 515531.
Guerrero, M. D. (2004). Acquiring academic English in one year: An unlikely proposition for English language learners. Urban Education, 39, 172199.
Gutierrez-Clellen, V. F., & Kreiter, J. (2003). Understanding child bilingual acquisition using parent and teacher reports. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24, 267288.
Hakuta, K. (1976). A case study of a Japanese child learning English. Language Learning, 26, 321351.
Hakuta, K., Butler, Y. G., & Witt, D. (2000). How long does it take English learners to attain proficiency? Policy Report, 2000. Davis, CA: University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute.
Harmon, J. M. (1999). Initial encounters with unfamiliar words in independent reading. Research in the Teaching of English, 33, 304338.
Hart, B., & Risley, T. (1995). Meaningful differences in everyday parenting and intellectual development in young American children. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Hoff, E. (2003). The specificity of environmental influence: Socioeconomic status affects early vocabulary development via maternal speech. Child Development, 74, 13681378.
Hoff, E. (2006). How social contexts support and shape language development. Developmental Review, 26, 5588.
Hoff-Ginsberg, E. (1985). Some contributions of mothers’ speech to their children's syntactic growth. Journal of Child Language, 12, 367386.
Hoff-Ginsberg, E. (1991). Mother–child conversation in different social classes and communicative settings. Child Development, 62, 782796.
Hoff-Ginsberg, E., & Shatz, M. (1982). Linguistic input and the child's acquisition of language. Psychological Bulletin, 92, 326.
Huber, P. J. (1967). The behavior of maximum likelihood estimates under nonstandard conditions. Paper presented at the 5th Berkeley Symposium on Mathematical Statistics and Probability, University of California Press, Berkeley.
Huttenlocher, J., Haight, W., Bryk, A., Seltzer, M., & Lyons, T. (1991). Early vocabulary growth relation to language input and gender. Developmental Psychology, 27, 236248.
Huttenlocher, J., Vasilyeva, M., Cymerman, E., & Levine, S. (2002). Language input and child syntax. Cognitive Psychology, 45, 337374.
Huttenlocher, J., Vasilyeva, M., Waterfall, H., Vevea, J., & Hedges, L. (2007). The varieties of speech to young children. Developmental Psychology, 43, 10621083.
Johnson, J. S., & Newport, E. L. (1989). Critical period effects in second language learning: The influence of maturational state on the acquisition of English as a second language. Cognitive Psychology, 21, 6099.
Klibanoff, R., Levine, S., Huttenlocher, J., Vasilyeva, M., & Hedges, L. (2006). Preschool children's mathematical knowledge: The effect of teacher “math talk.” Developmental Psychology, 42, 5969.
Kramer, J. H., Delis, D. C., Kaplan, E., O'Donnell, L., & Prifitera, A. (1997). Developmental sex differences in verbal learning. Neuropsychology, 11, 577584.
Letts, C. (1991). Early second language acquisition: A comparison of the linguistic output of a preschool child acquiring English as a second language with that of a monolingual peer. British Journal of Disorders of Communication, 26, 219234.
MacWhinney, B. (1995). The CHILDES project: Tools for analyzing talk. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
McCartney, K. (1984). Effect of quality of day care environment on children's language development. Developmental Psychology, 20, 244260.
McCartney, K., Scarr, S., Philips, D., & Grajec, S. (1985). Day care as intervention: Comparison of varying quality programs. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 6, 247260.
Naigles, L., & Hoff-Ginsberg, E. (1998). Why are some verbs learned before other verbs? Effects of input frequency and structure on children's early verb use. Journal of Child Language, 25, 95120.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network. (2000). The relation of child care to cognitive and language development. Child Development, 71, 960980.
Nelson, K., & Bonvillian, J. (1973). Concepts and words in the 18-month-old: Acquiring concept names under controlled conditions. Cognition, 2, 435450.
Newport, E. L. (1990). Maturational constraints on language learning. Cognitive Science, 14, 1128.
Oller, D. K., & Eilers, R. E. (2002). Language and literacy in bilingual children. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Páez, M. M., Tabors, P. O., & López, L. M. (2007). Dual language and literacy development of Spanish speaking preschool children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 28, 85102.
Parker, M. D., & Brorson, K. (2005). A comparative study between mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm) and mean length of utterance in words (MLUw). First Language, 25, 365376.
Patterson, J. (2002). Relationships of expressive vocabulary to frequency of reading and television experience among bilingual toddlers. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 493508.
Pearson, B. Z. (2002). Bilingual infants. In Suárez-Orozco, M. & Páez, M. (Eds.), Latino remaking America (pp. 306320). Los Angeles: University of California Press and David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University.
Pearson, B. Z., Fernandez, S. C., Lewedeg, V., & Oller, D. K. (1997). The relation of input factors to lexical learning by bilingual infants. Applied Psycholinguistics, 18, 4158.
Pianta, R. C. (1999). Enhancing relationships between children and teachers. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Pianta, R. C., La Paro, K. M., Payne, C., Cox, M. J., & Bradley, R. (2002). The relation of kindergarten classroom environment to teacher, family, and school characteristics and child outcomes. Elementary School Journal, 102, 225238.
Ranta, L. (2002). The role of learners’ language analytic ability in the communicative classroom. In Robinson, P. (Ed.), Individual differences and instructed language learning (pp. 159180). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Saville-Troike, M. (1987). Dilingual discourse: The negotiation of meaning with a common code. Linguistics, 25, 81106.
Scarborough, H. (2001). Connecting early language and literacy to later reading (dis)abilities: Evidence, theory, and practice. In Neuman, S. B. & Dickinson, D. K. (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research (pp. 97110). New York: Guilford Press.
Smolak, L., & Weinraub, M. (1983). Maternal speech: Strategy or response. Journal of Child Language, 10, 369380.
Snow, C. E., Burns, S., & Griffin, P. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.
Snow, C. E., & Ferguson, C. A. (1977). Talking to children: Language input and acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Snow, C. E., Porche, M. V., Tabors, P. O., & Harris, S. R. (2007). Is literacy enough? Pathways to academic success in adolescents. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Tabors, P. O. (1997). One child, two languages: A guide for preschool educators of children learning English as a second language. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Tabors, P. O., Páez, M. M., & López, L. M. (2003). Dual language abilities of Spanish–English bilingual four-year olds: Initial finding from the Early Childhood Study of Language and Literacy Development of Spanish-speaking children. NABE Journal of Research and Practice, 1, 7091.
Tabors, P. O., Snow, C. E., & Dickinson, D. K. (2001). Homes and schools together: Supporting language and literacy development. In Dickinson, D. K. & Tabors, P. O. (Eds.), Beginning literacy with language: Young children learning at home and school (pp. 313334). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
Tardif, T., Shatz, M., & Naigles, L. (1997). Caregiver speech and children's use of nouns versus verbs: A comparison of English, Italian and Mandarin. Journal of Child Language, 24, 535565.
Ucceli, P., & Páez, M. M. (2007). Narrative and vocabulary development of bilingual children from kindergarten to first grade: Developmental changes and associations among English and Spanish skills. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 38, 225236.
Uchikoshi, Y. (2006). English vocabulary development in bilingual kindergarteners: What are the best predictors? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 9, 3349.
Umbel, V. M., Pearson, B. Z., Fernández, M. C., & Oller, D. K. (1992). Measuring bilingual children's receptive vocabularies. Child Development, 63, 10121020.
US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2007). The condition of education 2007 (NCES Report 2007–064). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.
Van Lier, L. (1999). Second language acquisition: What we know from case studies of structural development. Unpublished manuscript, US Department of Education, Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs.
Weizman, Z. O., & Snow, C. E. (2001). Lexical output as related to children's vocabulary acquisition: Effects of sophisticated exposure and support for meaning. Developmental Psychology, 37, 265279.
White, H. (1982). Maximum likelihood estimation of misspecified models. Econometrica, 50, 125.
Wong-Fillmore, L. (1979). Individual differences in second language acquisition. In Fillmore, C., Kempler, D., & Wang, W. S. (Eds.), Individual differences in language ability and language behavior (pp. 203227). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Wong-Fillmore, L. (1983). The language learner as an individual: Implications of research on individual differences for the ESL teacher. In Clarke, M. & Handscombe, J. (Eds.), On TESOL '82: Pacific perspectives on language learning and teaching (pp. 157173). Washington, DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The relation between teacher input and lexical growth of preschoolers

  • EDMOND P. BOWERS (a1) and MARINA VASILYEVA (a2)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.