Join Our Mailing List

Linguistic interactions with children are strongly related to literacy outcomes at all age levels

Certain communicative interactions and techniques result in higher gains in language development and vocabulary development. At the same time, incorrect use of lower language techniques can actually prevent children from making gains in vocabulary development. (DesJardin, Ambrose, & Eisenburg, 2008)

Using fundamental language techniques with children who have developed beyond a one-word stage can actually hinder children’s growth in language and vocabulary and emergent literacy skills such as phonological awareness, letter-word identification, and reading vocabulary. See the chart below for some ideas on how to boast your linguistic interactions to more effective strategies that will enhance your students’ vocabulary and language development.

Linguistic Chart

FAQ: How can I boost vocabulary development in my classroom? How can I enhance my interactions with my students to boost vocabulary development?


DesJardin, J.L., Ambrose, S., & Eisenberg, L.S. (2008). Literacy skills in children with cochlear implants: The importance of early oral language and joint storybook reading.  The goal of this study was to longitudinally examine relationships between early factors (child and mother) that may influence children's phonological awareness and reading skills 3 years later in a group of young children with cochlear implants (N = 16). Mothers and children were videotaped during two storybook interactions, and children's oral language skills were assessed using the “Reynell Developmental Language Scales, third edition.” Three years later, phonological awareness, reading skills, and language skills were assessed using the “Phonological Awareness Test,” the “Woodcock–Johnson-III Diagnostic Reading Battery,” and the “Oral Written Language Scales.” Variables included in the data analyses were child (age, age at implant, and language skills) and mother factors (facilitative language techniques) and children's phonological awareness and reading standard scores. Results indicate that children's early expressive oral language skills and mothers’ use of a higher level facilitative language technique (open-ended question) during storybook reading, although related, each contributed uniquely to children's literacy skills. Individual analyses revealed that the children with expressive standard scores below 70 at Time 1 also performed below average (<85) on phonological awareness and total reading tasks 3 years later. Guidelines for professionals are provided to support literacy skills in young children with cochlear implants. 

DesJardin, J.L. & Eisenberg, L.S. (2007).  Maternal contributions: Supporting language development in children with cochlear implants. The principal goal of this study was to investigate the relationships between maternal contributions (e.g., involvement, self-efficacy, linguistic input) and receptive and expressive (oral and sign) language skills in young children with cochlear implants. Relationships between maternal contributions and children's language skills were investigated by using correlation and regression analyses. Thirty-two mothers (mean age = 36.0 yr) and their children (mean age = 4.8 yr) were videotaped during free play and storybook interactions. Mothers' and children's quantitative (MLU, number of word-types) and mothers' qualitative (facilitative language techniques) linguistic input were analyzed. Mothers completed a measurement tool specifically designed to quantify their sense of involvement and self-efficacy (Scale of Parental Involvement and Self-Efficacy). The Reynell Developmental Language Scales and data from videotaped transcription analyses were used to evaluate children's oral and sign language skills. Maternal involvement and self-efficacy relating to children's speech-language development were positively related to mothers' quantitative and qualitative linguistic input. After controlling for child's age, mothers' MLU and two facilitative language techniques (recast and open-ended question) were positively related to children's language skills. The performance of young implant users may vary in part because of their mothers' sense of involvement and self-efficacy, as well as the ways in which mothers interact with their children. Given this information, it would be fruitful for professionals working with these families to incorporate goals that enhance caregivers' involvement, self-efficacy, and linguistic input to better support language development in young children after cochlear implantation.

Hoff, E., & Naigles, L. (2002).  How children use input to acquire a lexicon.  The contributions of social processes and computational processes to early lexical development were evaluated. A re-analysis and review of previous research cast doubt on the sufficiency of social approaches to word learning. An empirical investigation of the relation of social-pragmatic and data-providing features of input to the productive vocabulary of sixty-three 2-year-old children revealed benefits of data provided in mother-child conversation, but no effects of social aspects of those conversations. The findings further revealed that the properties of data that benefit lexical development in 2-year-olds are quantity, lexical richness, and syntactic complexity. The nature of the computational mechanisms implied by these findings is discussed. An integrated account of the roles of social and computational processes to lexical development is proposed.