SDSU Study Will Examine When Literacy Begins
Monday, April 2, 2012
Aired 4/2/12 on KPBS News.
A new research project will explore whether early language comprehension leads to literacy.
SAN DIEGO A San Diego State University researcher is launching an international study on early language development. The study will examine whether early language comprehension leads to school readiness.
Researchers will follow 250 16-month-old babies for five years. It will compare their understanding of language at different stages, to see whether early development leads to better performance at age four.
SDSU psychologist Margaret Friend is heading up the study. She said until recently, researchers haven't been able to accurately measure language comprehension under 30 months of age.
"We're taking an assessment that we know is reliable, and it directly measures what children know," Friend said. "So this is going to give us an opportunity to learn from fairly early on what children know, and how it predicts their development in the future."
Children in the U.S., Canada and Switzerland will be involved in the study. Researchers will look at kids who grow up in English, Spanish, French-speaking and bilingual homes.
Friend believes early language development is universal.
"And yet, we feel compelled to assess our findings across languages," she said, "because after all, different languages have different concepts that they want to express sometimes, or different concepts that are more important."
Friend said some preliminary results from the study could be released next year.
The research project is funded by a $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.