Promoting lower SES infants’ language development: Evidence from two Randomised Controlled Trials - Bristol Conversations in Education

12 December 2018, 4.00 PM - 12 December 2018, 5.00 PM

Michelle McGillion, University of Warwick

Room 4.10, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1JA

This event is part of the School of Education's 'Bristol Conversations in Education' seminar series.

Speaker: Michelle McGillion, University of Warwick

Children  from  disadvantaged  families  tend  to  have  limited  language skills  compared  to  their  advantaged  peers.  This  social  gradient  emerges  as  early  as  the  second  year  of  life  and  persists  through  childhood  with  long  term  consequences  for  academic  achievement,  economic  success  and  wellbeing.  Recent  studies  point  to  parenting  interventions, early in development,  as  having  the  most  potential  to  change  this  picture.  This seminar will focus on two RCTs to promote infant language learning through caregiver contingent talk. Contingent  talk  refers  to  a  style  of  communication  whereby  the  caregiver  talks  about  what  is  in  their  infant's  current  focus  of  attention.  In the first study, 142 11-month-olds and their caregivers were randomly allocated to a contingent talk intervention or a dental health control. This intervention was effective in promoting caregiver contingent talk and this benefited lower SES infants’ language in the short term (at 15 and 18 months) but not one year post intervention (at 24 months). In the second RCT, 156 11-month-olds and their caregivers have been randomly allocated to a book sharing contingent talk intervention or a control condition where families are given the same books but no training (current practice in many areas). Book sharing is a tangible activity that tends to generate very high rates of high quality talk with infants. However, it is culturally alien to many. This study will explore how this trade-off plays out for child language outcomes (to 24 months). Finally, the findings from both studies will be considered in  the  broader  context  of  different  types  of  parenting  interventions  during  the  infancy  period.


Contact information

Emma Rossiter


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