Senior Honors Projects, 2020-current

A step toward understanding the language environment of Spanish-learning infants

Hannah Schroyer


In recent years, many studies have been conducted to improve the understanding of children’s early language environments and how this impacts their long term development. Most studies of this nature focus on a single variable which has been found to have a major impact on childhood language environment, socioeconomic status (SES). SES has been found to impact both the number of words children hear and the quality of speech and language input that they receive. Children growing up in low-SES environments hear fewer words and lower quality speech, which has been shown to cause delayed language development and decreased long term cognitive and educational outcomes. While this has been well established for low-SES English-speaking families, there has been little research done confirming that the same phenomenon is true for low-SES Spanish-speaking families. Considering the variables of language and culture, it is extremely possible that entirely different patterns may emerge for Spanish-speaking families. With the growing demographic of Spanish speakers in the United States, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how Spanish speaking families differ from English speaking families so that professionals working with these families can implement the most appropriate supports. This paper will discuss the existing literature regarding home language environment, a proposed method for data collection, and important considerations for researchers based on our research team’s experiences.