A Preliminary Examination of Vocabulary and Word Learning in African American Toddlers From Middle and Low Socioeconomic Status Homes Purpose This study examined the effect of socioeconomic status (SES) on the early lexical performance of African American children. Method Thirty African American toddlers (30 to 40 months old) from low-SES (n = 15) and middle-SES (n = 15) backgrounds participated in the study. Their lexical-semantic performance was ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 01, 2007
A Preliminary Examination of Vocabulary and Word Learning in African American Toddlers From Middle and Low Socioeconomic Status Homes
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • RaMonda Horton-Ikard
    University of Tennessee—Knoxville
  • Susan Ellis Weismer
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Contact author: RaMonda Horton-Ikard, Department of Communication Disorders, Florida State University, 407 Regional Rehabilitation Center, Tallahassee, FL 32303. E-mail: rhorton2@fsu.edu.
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 2007
A Preliminary Examination of Vocabulary and Word Learning in African American Toddlers From Middle and Low Socioeconomic Status Homes
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2007, Vol. 16, 381-392. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2007/041)
History: Received September 22, 2005 , Revised April 30, 2006 , Accepted July 5, 2007
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2007, Vol. 16, 381-392. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2007/041)
History: Received September 22, 2005; Revised April 30, 2006; Accepted July 5, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 27

Purpose This study examined the effect of socioeconomic status (SES) on the early lexical performance of African American children.

Method Thirty African American toddlers (30 to 40 months old) from low-SES (n = 15) and middle-SES (n = 15) backgrounds participated in the study. Their lexical-semantic performance was examined on 2 norm-referenced standardized tests of vocabulary, a measure of lexical diversity (number of different words) derived from language samples, and a fast mapping task that examined novel word learning.

Results Toddlers from low-SES homes performed significantly poorer than those from middle-SES homes on standardized receptive and expressive vocabulary tests and on the number of different words used in spontaneous speech. No significant SES group differences were observed in their ability to learn novel word meanings on a fast mapping task.

Conclusion The influence of socioeconomic background on African American children’s lexical semantic tasks varies with the type of measure used.

Acknowledgments
This project was funded by a minigrant through Project LASER. Project LASER (H326M000002) is a funded cooperative agreement of the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Development of the fast mapping task was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC03731 awarded to the second author. The authors extend thanks to the parents, children, and day care providers in the East Knoxville, TN, area who participated in the study.
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