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Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (BS)
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Rory A. DePaolis
Background: Infants living in low socioeconomic status (SES) homes display lower developmental functioning by 12 months than mid- and high-SES infants, and speak fewer words on average as they grow older. Maternal speech is especially important for language development and has been found to be the largest predictor of SES-related differences in children’s vocabulary. Although there are documented differences between British and American infant language development, for example American infant lexicons are typically larger than age matched British infants, there is little research looking at caregiver speech across these countries in low SES groups.
Method: This retrospective study compared 10 British and 10 American caregiver-infant dyads in order to explore language differences that may exist between the two populations. Each family used a LENA (Language ENvironment Analysis) recording device to record the amount of speech heard in the infant’s environment over two subsequent days. Analysis was completed using two methods: 1) the automated LENA counts from recordings, and 2) one hour of orthographically transcribed infant directed speech extracted from the LENA audio files.
Results: No significant differences were found in any of the automated LENA counts across groups. After completing a language sample analysis for each transcribed hour, only the mean length of utterance (MLU) showed a significant difference. The American caregivers had a significantly higher average MLU than British caregivers.
Conclusions: These results further document differences between lower SES British and American caregivers and add to the ongoing discussion of language differences in British and American infants.
Markfeld, Jennifer, "American and British speech differences in low socioeconomic status homes" (2019). Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current. 698.