News: Specialized Press

Talking With Children Accelerates and Assists in the Development of Language

Source: PEDIATRICS. 2009 JUL; 124 (1):342-349. / Date: JULY 2009 / Category: Specialized Press


Traditionally, experts have required parents to read to their children in order to enhance their language development. A recommendation that, as pointed out by Dr. Frederick J. Zimmerman, director of a study conducted by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (United States) and published in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics, "is not at all changed with our findings, which in turn show that conversations between parents and children are equally important. What children learn in their early years is not so much language as communication. And the best way to improve communication is to put it into practice.”

In agreement with the results, parents should not simply read to their children in order to accelerate language development, but also have conversations with them. And so, this work shows, as carried out with around 300 families in which there was one member from 2 to 4 years old, conversations with children appear at least as important as reading or storytelling when helping them to develop language. The authors gave 275 families digital recording equipment with the purpose of filming the conversations and 'monologues', as well as the exposure to conversations and the TV, of their preschool-age children. Children wore the equipment one day per month for up to 6 months and monitoring was extended up to 18 months in the case of some specific families.

Evaluating the long-term results, the conversations between parent and child were associated with better language development. And as Dr. Zimmerman says, "Our work suggests a strong interaction, in this case conversation, which promotes good language development, and not vice versa, that is, that children with higher language skills were those who had greater capacity to converse with adults.”

The study shows that, in comparison with their peers, the children of preschool-age who have more conversations with adults obtain better results on conventional tests evaluating their language skills. Moreover, their language development will be equally stronger during the following 18 months.

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