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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Conversation boosts language

25th May 2010

Parents who encourage their children to have meaningful conversations are furthering language acquisition, according to a recent Dutch study.


The researchers found that children who were encouraged to engage in serious conversations with family members ended up being able to use language with above average proficiency.

They also found that the extent to which children were encouraged to participate in adult conversations differed strongly from family to family.

For the purposes of the study, the researchers tracked 150 Dutch children over a period of three years.

The researchers first encountered the children when they were between the ages of three and six.

Some of the children from the study were of Dutch descent, while others were from Turkish and Moroccan-Berber backgrounds.

The researchers focused on types of conversations to which children could meaningfully contribute.

Study author Lotte Henrichs said that schoolchildren were required to express their ideas using complex sentences and a higher level of language than children who did not go to school.

She said that academic language, involving multiple clauses and conjunctions, was the way students were expected to talk to teachers.

Children who go to pre-school are also exposed to academic language earlier than their peers, as well as children whose parents read to them.

But parents need to approach their children for their opinions during such conversations, and encourage them to find natural ways to express their thoughts.


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