Recent research suggests that children's linguistic competence may play a central role in establishing social acceptance. That possibility was evaluated by examining children's peer relationships in a preschool classroom attended by children with varying degrees of communication ability. Three groups of children were compared: children with normally developing language skills (ND), children with speech and/or language impairments (S/LI), and children learning English as a second language (ESL). Two sociometric tasks were used to measure peer popularity: positive nominations and negative nominations. Children in the ND group received more positive nominations than the children in either the ESL or S/LI groups. When the children's positive and negative nominations were combined to classify them as Liked, Disliked, Low Impact, or Mixed, the ND children predominated in the Liked cell, whereas the other two groups of children fell into the Disliked or Low Impact cells. In addition, the PPVT-R, a receptive measure of single-word vocabulary, was found to be the best predictor of peer popularity. The findings are discussed in terms of a social consequences account of language limitations.
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