While there is a large body of literature suggesting that early word learning is critical for the later development of oral and written language, the processes by which problems in word learning interact with deficits in other aspects of linguistic knowledge are not well understood, nor is it clear whether deficits in vocabulary size impact later language development equally depending on their source. A better understanding of these interactions are critical because small vocabularies in early childhood place children at significant risk for delays in acquiring both spoken and written language. This study proposes to begin to fill in some of these gaps in our understanding by examining the relationships among components of phonological knowledge (including the ability to perceive speech sounds in challenging listening tasks, the ability to robustly differentiate among speech sounds in production, and the ability to make inferences about how sounds function in the language being acquired) and lexical acquisition in children with a wide range of vocabulary sizes, where size varies for different reasons across groups. The proposed research is a longitudinal study from 30 to 60 months of age of approximately 200 children with a wide variety of initial vocabulary sizes resulting from a range of advantages or deficits in the types of phonological knowledge that support word learning. The specific research question addressed is: what are the developmental relationships among vocabulary growth and three types of phonological knowledge (speech production knowledge, speech perception knowledge, and higher-level categorical knowledge) for children with normal hearing from middle-SES and low-SES families, and for children with cochlear implants (CIs)? The study will include three groups of children: one, children from low-SES families, who have smaller vocabularies than peers from middle-SES families because of more limited linguistic input (among other factors);two, children with cochlear implants, who have smaller vocabularies than peers with normal hearing because of their perceptual limitations;and three, children from middle-SES families with a wide range of vocabulary sizes, including a sizeable number of late talkers (i.e., children who have small expressive vocabularies at age 2, in spite of normal sensory functioning, normal cognitive development, and age-appropriate receptive vocabularies). The study also includes a statistical modeling component to determine optimal interventions for children with small-sized vocabularies. Structural equation modeling, based on data from this rich longitudinal sample, will allow us to test what interventions might be most effective to increase vocabulary for these different groups of children. Ultimately, the knowledge obtained from this study will enable us to develop efficacious and targeted early interventions for young children with atypically small vocabularies.

Public Health Relevance

Small vocabularies in early childhood place children at significant risk for delays in acquiring both spoken and written language. However, the processes by which problems in word learning interact with deficits in other aspects of linguistic knowledge are not well understood. This study will examine the relationships among components of phonological development and lexical acquisition in children with a wide range of vocabulary sizes for different reasons. Ultimately, this knowledge will enable us to develop efficacious and targeted early interventions for children with smaller vocabularies in early childhood.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
3R01DC002932-11S1
Application #
8503623
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-J (05))
Program Officer
Cooper, Judith
Project Start
1998-01-15
Project End
2014-03-31
Budget Start
2012-09-01
Budget End
2013-03-31
Support Year
11
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$31,910
Indirect Cost
$8,680
Name
University of Wisconsin Madison
Department
Pediatrics
Type
Other Domestic Higher Education
DUNS #
161202122
City
Madison
State
WI
Country
United States
Zip Code
53715
Winn, Matthew B; Won, Jong Ho; Moon, Il Joon (2016) Assessment of Spectral and Temporal Resolution in Cochlear Implant Users Using Psychoacoustic Discrimination and Speech Cue Categorization. Ear Hear 37:e377-e390
Munson, Benjamin; Carlson, Kari Urberg (2016) An Exploration of Methods for Rating Children's Productions of Sibilant Fricatives. Speech Lang Hear 19:36-45
Reidy, Patrick F (2016) Spectral dynamics of sibilant fricatives are contrastive and language specific. J Acoust Soc Am 140:2518
Edwards, Jan; Beckman, Mary E; Munson, Benjamin (2015) Frequency effects in phonological acquisition. J Child Lang 42:306-11; discussion 316-22
Law 2nd, Franzo; Edwards, Jan R (2015) Effects of Vocabulary Size on Online Lexical Processing by Preschoolers. Lang Learn Dev 11:331-355
Mahr, Tristan; McMillan, Brianna T M; Saffran, Jenny R et al. (2015) Anticipatory coarticulation facilitates word recognition in toddlers. Cognition 142:345-50
Holliday, Jeffrey J; Reidy, Patrick F; Beckman, Mary E et al. (2015) Quantifying the Robustness of the English Sibilant Fricative Contrast in Children. J Speech Lang Hear Res 58:622-37
Plummer, Andrew R; Beckman, Mary E (2015) Framing a socio-indexical basis for the emergence and cultural transmission of phonological systems. J Phon 53:66-78
Winn, Matthew B; Edwards, Jan R; Litovsky, Ruth Y (2015) The Impact of Auditory Spectral Resolution on Listening Effort Revealed by Pupil Dilation. Ear Hear 36:e153-65
Winn, Matthew B; Litovsky, Ruth Y (2015) Using speech sounds to test functional spectral resolution in listeners with cochlear implants. J Acoust Soc Am 137:1430-42

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