Input Subject Diversity Enhances Early Grammatical Growth: Evidence from a Parent-Implemented Intervention

Pamela A. Hadley, Matthew Rispoli, Janet K. Holt, Theodora Papastratakos, Ning Hsu, Mary Kubalanza, Megan M. McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The current study used an intervention design to test the hypothesis that parent input sentences with diverse lexical noun phrase (NP) subjects would accelerate growth in children’s sentence diversity. Method: Child growth in third person sentence diversity was modeled from 21–30 months (n = 38) in conversational language samples obtained at 21, 24, 27, and 30 months. Treatment parents (n = 19) received instruction on strategies designed to increase lexical NP subjects (e.g., The baby is sleeping.). Instruction consisted of one group education session and two individual coaching sessions which took place when children were approximately 22–23 months of age. Results: Treatment substantially increased parents’ lexical NP subject tokens and types (ηp 2 ≥.45) compared to controls. Children’s number of different words was a significant predictor of sentence diversity in the analyses of group treatment effects and individual input effects. Treatment condition was not a significant predictor of treatment effects on children’s sentence diversity, but parents’ lexical NP subject types was a significant predictor of children’s sentence diversity growth, even after controlling for children’s number of different words over time. Conclusions: These findings establish a link between subject diversity in parent input and children’s early grammatical growth, and the feasibility of using relatively simple strategies to alter this specific grammatical property of parent language input.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-79
Number of pages26
JournalLanguage Learning and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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