General programme, activity sheet

Wednesday 7 September, 2016 16:00 to 16:30 Oral presentation
Core vocabulary used by young children receiving Maltese-dominant exposure
Speaker: Daniela Gatt, University of Malta

Authors: Daniela Gatt and May Agius


Core vocabulary lists are made up of words that typically-developing children use across all communicative environments (Banajee, Dicarlo & Buras Stricklin, 2003). Typically, these high frequency words are verbs, demonstratives and prepositions that do not change across contexts of language use (Banajee et al., 2003; Stubbs, 1986).The identification of core vocabularies in children exposed to specific languages or language pairs has important implications for language intervention. For Maltese typically-developing children, who are exposed to varying proportions of Maltese and English, frequency of word usage in either language is relatively unknown. The identification of a core vocabulary list for sub-groups of the Maltese childhood population, the latter determined on the basis of the type of bilingual exposure received, is clinically relevant as it can form an evidence-based foundation for therapeutic intervention. Indeed, vocabulary selection has been posited as central to treatment directed at young children with primary language delay (e.g., Ellis Weismer, Murray Branch, & Miller, 1993; Girolametto, Pearce, & Weitzman, 1996; Wolfe & Heilman, 2010; Robillard, Mayer-Crittenden, Minor-Corriveau, & Bélanger, 2014). The reported investigation aimed to identify a core vocabulary list for two longitudinal groups of typically-developing children who were predominantly exposed to the Maltese language in their homes. The younger group (N = 9) was followed between 12 and 24 months of age. Data for the older cohort (N = 7) were gathered at 18-30 months. Vocabulary data were obtained at 4-month intervals from audio-recorded language samples and vocabulary checklists that were completed by the mothers. A bilingual core vocabulary list was developed on the basis of sampled words’ frequency of usage and checklist words’ commonality scores. The presentation will report on the outcomes and will discuss their implications for vocabulary selection in intervention directed at children with primary language delay. References Banajee, M., Dicarlo, C., & Buras Stricklin, S. (2003). Core vocabulary determination for toddlers. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 19(2), 67-73. Ellis Weismer, S., Murray-Branch, J., & Miller, J. F. (1993). Comparison of two methods for promoting productive vocabulary in late talkers. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 36(5), 1037-1050. Girolametto, L., Pearce, P. S., & Weitzman, E. (1996). Interactive focused stimulation for toddlers with expressive vocabulary delays. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 39(6), 1274-1283. Robillard, M., Mayer-Crittenden, C., Minor-Corriveau, M., & Bélanger, R. (2014). Monolingual and bilingual children with and without primary language impairment: Core vocabulary comparison. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 30(3), 267-278. Stubbs, M. (1986). Language development, lexical competence and nuclear vocabulary. Educational Linguistics, 98-115. Wolfe, D. L., & Heilmann, J. (2010). Simplified and expanded input in a focused stimulation program for a child with expressive language delay (ELD). Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 26(3), 335-346.
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Lexico-semantic development
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