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