QUALITY OR QUANTITY OF LANGUAGE: WHERE TO FOCUS?

Ronda Rufsvold ABD, LSLS Cert. AVEd

Ye Wang Ph.D.

Ronda Rufsvold, a PhD student in the Deaf Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University, under the direction of Dr. Wang, presented her research on quantity vs. quality of child directed language.  

Rufsvold noted that, while talking to children and providing lots of language input is important, it’s not just a “fitbit for language.”  It’s not just “more words” that make the difference, but providing higher quality input and complex syntactic structures.  She noted that high quality language includes diversity in structures, clauses, and lexicon (vocabulary).  Rufsvold used LENA data recording to measure the amount of child-directed speech on one week day and one weekend day for groups of children with and without hearing loss and found that there was no difference in the amount of child-directed talk between the two groups.  This is great news!  However, Rufsvold noted a correlation between children with hearing loss who were exposed to higher quality language and those children’s own language scores.  Her research underscores the importance of parents speaking to their children in their native languages — it’s hard to provide complex language input in a language in which you, the parent, are not fluent, and that fluent language input is KEY for your child’s development.

All recaps are from my notes, memory, and/or presentation materials made available by the presenters. Any errors or omissions are my own.

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