The Relationship Between Maternal Language Measures and Language Development in Toddlers With Expressive Vocabulary Delays This study examined the relationship between variation in maternal language and variation in language development in a group of 12 children with expressive vocabulary delays. Mothers and their children participated in a parent-mediated intervention that adhered to the interactive model of language intervention. This intervention model arises out of social ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 01, 1999
The Relationship Between Maternal Language Measures and Language Development in Toddlers With Expressive Vocabulary Delays
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Luigi Girolametto
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Elaine Weitzman
    The Hanen Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Megan Wiigs
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Patsy Steig Pearce
    Centenary Health Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Contact author: Luigi Girolametto, PhD, Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto, 6 Queen’s Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3H2. E-mail: l.girolametto@utoronto.ca
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 1999
The Relationship Between Maternal Language Measures and Language Development in Toddlers With Expressive Vocabulary Delays
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 1999, Vol. 8, 364-374. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0804.364
History: Received April 26, 1999 , Accepted September 24, 1999
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 1999, Vol. 8, 364-374. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0804.364
History: Received April 26, 1999; Accepted September 24, 1999

This study examined the relationship between variation in maternal language and variation in language development in a group of 12 children with expressive vocabulary delays. Mothers and their children participated in a parent-mediated intervention that adhered to the interactive model of language intervention. This intervention model arises out of social interactionist accounts of language acquisition and maintains that maternal language input has facilitatory effects on child development. The purpose of this study was to examine two compatible explanations for the facilitatory effects of maternal linguistic input in this intervention model: the responsivity hypothesis and the structural hypothesis. The responsivity hypothesis maintains that linguistic input that is semantically contingent on the child’s vocal or verbal utterances, or responsive to the child’s focus, facilitates language learning. The structural hypothesis posits that structural features of maternal language input that are just one step above the child’s abilities promote language learning. The results of this study indicated robust relationships between maternal use of imitation and expansion at Time 1 and measures of child language at Time 2. These results provided support for the effects of responsive language input on the language abilities of this sample of late talkers. These results have implications for social interaction theory and confirm the import of responsive input as viable intervention techniques for young children with expressive vocabulary delays.

Author Note
This study was sponsored by a grant from the National Health, Research, Development Program of Health and Welfare Canada. We thank Fern Sussman (The Hanen Centre) for her contributions to the development of the program content and format, and Gary Kapelus (Centenary Health Centre) for his assistance in making this study possible at this center. We especially thank Maureen O’Keefe, research officer, for her guidance, patience, and help in every step of this project, from recruitment to assessment and data transcription. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Suzanne Coxon for program delivery and Cheryl Shuster and Barb Wylde for conducting posttest assessments. Above all, we are deeply appreciative of the participation of the mothers and their children. We would also like to thank Judith Johnston for her comments on an earlier manuscript.
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