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Language development, metalinguistic awareness, and emergent literacy skills of 3-year-old children in relation to social class

  • Carolyn Chaney (a1)

This is an investigation of the relationships among selected aspects of normal language development, emerging metalinguistic skills, concepts about print, and family literacy experiences in 3-year-old children who vary in their socioeconomic backgrounds. Forty-three normally developing children, whose family incomes ranged from under $10,000 to over $100,000, were given 4 tests of language development; 12 metalinguistic tasks measuring phonological awareness, word awareness, and structural awareness; and 2 measures of literacy knowledge. The children's family literacy experiences were described following a parent interview. The data analysis had two main purposes. The first was to examine the family literacy experiences of the children using a qualitative analysis. The second was to describe, in a quantitative way, the relationships among family literacy experiences, socioeconomic factors, language development, metalinguistic performance, and concepts about print. The interview data revealed that, while parents varied in the emphasis they placed on literacy activities, all of the children were at least somewhat involved in literacy activities at home; family report of literacy activities was associated with family income. Quantitative analyses revealed that amount of family literacy involvement and the children's race were related to oral language development, and language development was the most powerful predictor of metalinguistic awareness. When language development was controlled statistically, family literacy and socioeconomic factors had negligible effects on metalinguistic skills; however, knowledge of print concepts was related to metalinguistic performance, especially in the phonological domain, and was associated with the children's family literacy experiences, maternal education, and race.

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Department of Speech and Communication Studies, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA, 94132
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Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
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