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Toy talk: A simple strategy to promote richer grammatical input

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Title: Toy talk: A simple strategy to promote richer grammatical input
Author(s): Walsh, Kathleen M.
Advisor(s): Hadley, Pamela A.
Department / Program: Speech & Hearing Science
Discipline: Speech & Hearing Science
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.A.
Genre: Thesis
Subject(s): morphosyntax late talking toddlers grammar input acquisition
Abstract: Purpose: The purpose of the current study was to determine whether brief instruction on toy talk, a language facilitation technique designed to increase the use of 3rd person subjects, would change properties of adult language input that could potentially promote syntactic analysis and grammatical growth in children. Method: Eighteen adults participated. All adults worked with or were interested in working with young children. The use of 3rd person subjects was examined before and after instruction on two simple strategies (i.e. talk about the toys and give the item its name). Change in input informativeness for tense marking and the association of subject types (pronominal vs. lexical noun phrase) and contractible versus uncontractible uses of copula/auxiliary is and auxiliary has in contractible contexts was also examined. In contractible contexts, it is possible to contract, but it is not required. These characteristics of the adult input were not taught as part of the instruction. Results: Statistically significant increases were observed following instruction for (a) use of 3rd person subjects [t(17) = -5.959, p < .001], (b) input informativeness for tense [t(17) = -3.960, p = .001], and (c) use of lexical noun phrases in contractible copula/auxiliary contexts [t(17) = -5.077, p = .001]. However, only 8 out the 18 participants demonstrated a significant association between subject type and use of contractible/uncontractible forms. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that adults can learn simple strategies and implement them with relatively brief instruction. The strategies can be incorporated into general language enrichment programs as well as family-focused early intervention. In addition, adult use of these simple strategies (i.e., talk about the toys and give the item its name) results in more informative grammatical input that may support children’s morphosyntactic learning without any additional instruction.
Issue Date: 2010-08-20
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/16862
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Kathleen M. Walsh
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-08-20
Date Deposited: 2010-08
 

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