Infants’ expressive language in early childhood education and care settings: communicative functions and activity contexts
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 13:48 authored by Natalie Brand
Recent work suggests that a rich linguistic environment in early childhood education and care (ECEC) centers plays an important role in infants’ emerging expressive language. While some studies have explored how educators support infant language development, very few have examined the infants' participation in this process. This study adopted the perspective that infants’ participation in educator-infant and peer interactions is integral to the learning and developmental potential of these interactions. Therefore, it aimed to examine the children’s linguistic output to determine what communicative functions are associated with produced utterances and whether there is the relationship between infants’ expressive language use and the context of their activities. The study employed qualitative and quantitative research methods to analyse 3-hour audio-visual observations of 6 children, aged 17-24 months, as they participated in the normal activities in their early childhood center. A qualitative analysis of the transcripts and video footage of infant vocalizations permitted the development of 6 categories to represent the communicative functions of these infants’ utterances. Quantitative coding then permitted an analysis of the extent to which each function was apparent in four activity contexts (Mealtime, Toy Play, Book Experience and Talk). Findings suggest that infants use their own linguistic resources for a range of purposes, but that these functions differ according to the activity context in which they occur.