A year in words: The dynamics and consequences of language experiences in an intervention classroom

Lynn K. Perry, Emily B. Prince, Adriana M. Valtierra, Camila Rivero-Fernandez, Mary Anne Ullery, Lynne F. Katz, Brett Laursen, Daniel S. Messinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Children from low SES backgrounds hear, on average, fewer words at home than those from high SES backgrounds. This word gap is associated with widening achievement differences in children’s language abilities and school readiness. However relatively little is known about adult and child speech in childcare settings, in which approximately 30% of American children are enrolled. We examined the influence of teacher and peer language input on children’s in-class language use and language development in an intervention classroom for low-SES, high-risk 2- to 3-year-olds. Over the course of a year, day-long recordings of the classroom were collected weekly with LENA recorders. Using LENA software algorithms, we found that language input from peers was positively related to children’s in-class language use, both in-the-moment and over the course of each day, as were the number of conversational turns in which children and teachers engaged Both peer input and conversational turns with teachers were also positively related to children’s language development rates, as indexed by increases in vocabulary size. Together these results indicate the importance of child-specific rates of classroom language input in the language development of high-risk, preschoolers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0199893
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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