SRCLD 2022 SRCLD Presentation Details
    Quality of Syntactic Input is more Important than Depth of Dialect or Quantity of Talk in Predicting later Child Literacy Outcomes in Low-income African American Caregiver-Child Pairs  
Evelyn Parker - Smith College
Gabbi Zutrau - Smith College
Madeline Klein - Smith College
Christine Roh - Smith College
Hope Wu - Smith College
Peter de Villiers - Smith College

SRCLD Year: 2016
Presentation Type: Special Session
Presentation Time: (na)
The language input from 38 low-income African American caregivers to their preschool children (mean age 4;6) was analyzed for its syntactic richness (using the IPSyn Sentence Structure Scale) and for the frequency of the caregivers’ use of distinctive features of AAE. Fifteen-minute conversational samples from caregiver-child pairs was collected in a free play situation. The syntactic richness of the caregivers’ language was unrelated to their use of AAE or MAE in their child-directed utterances. Regression analyses revealed that higher caregiver IPSyn scores from preschool conversations were significant independent predictors of better reading achievement in their children on the Woodcock-Johnson III at the end of first grade (at mean age 7;1), even when the children’s age, spoken language skills, and phonological awareness were controlled for. In contrast, caregivers’ depth of AAE dialect and number of utterances addressed to the child were not significant predictors of later reading skills. We conclude that the quality of the language input rather than amount of talk or mainstream dialect use is the critical contributor to later literacy development in low-income children (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2015).
Funding: NICHD Program Grant P01 HD048497
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