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Communication patterns between parents and children: Comparing mothers and fathers in different learner contexts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2014

McGill University
McGill University
Montreal Children's Hospital
Concordia University
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Lara Pierce, Department of Psychology, McGill University, 1205 Avenue Docteur-Penfield, Montreal, QC H3A 1B1, Canada. E-mail:


Language use and joint attention (JA) strategies were examined during interactions between francophone mothers and fathers and either their birth children (n = 10) or their internationally adopted children from China (n = 8), once when the children were 15 months old and again at 20 months, on average. Results showed that mothers engaged in more JA episodes and tended to talk more with their children than did fathers; however, this was influenced by the language-learning situation of the child. Specifically, the adoptive parents engaged more with their children than did the birth parents, and the behaviors of the internationally adopted mothers and fathers were more similar to each other than to those of the birth parents, arguably to support their children's unique language-learning situation. However, in contrast to a previous study that examined JA with adoptive mothers, the adoptive fathers’ interaction styles with their children at 15 months were not related to children's vocabularies at 20 months as has been observed for mothers.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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