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Factors that influence vocabulary development in two-year-old children

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephanie Stokes, Dr Thomas Klee


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Background: This research explored the relative impact of demographic, cognitive, behavioural, and psycholinguistic factors on vocabulary development in two-year-old children. Methods: Two hundred and thirty-two children (24-30 months) were tested on expressive and receptive vocabulary, cognitive development, word learning and working memory skills. Parents completed a British adaptation (Klee & Harrison, 2001) of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI; Fenson et al., 1993), a demographic questionnaire and a questionnaire regarding the child's social-emotional behaviour. Results: Several demographic, child and processing variables were significantly correlated with CDI (vocabulary) scores, but the only significant unique predictors of CDI scores were nonword repetition (NWR; R-2 change = .36), sex (R-2 change = .05) and age (R-2 change = .04). Scores were only included when a child completed the entire NWR test (77% of toddlers). Conclusions: The NWR task used in this experiment maximised participation in this group of toddlers, and was a strong predictor of vocabulary ability. Longitudinal research is warranted to explore the independent and reciprocal growth in working memory and language skills in children.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stokes SF, Klee T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

Year: 2009

Volume: 50

Issue: 4

Pages: 498-505

ISSN (print): 0021-9630

ISSN (electronic): 1469-7610

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.01991.x


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Funder referenceFunder name
Northumbria University School of Psychology