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The aim of this study was to develop a core vocabulary list for toddlers. Naturally occurring ( i.e. , unprompted) vocabulary was collected for 50 toddlers, aged from 24 to 36 months, enrolled in five different preschools, during two different activities (play within interest centres and snack time). Results revealed that all 50 children used nine common words across both routines, and that the list contained pronouns, verbs, prepositions and demonstratives. Words representing different pragmatic functions ( e.g. , requesting, affirming, negating) were also included. Nouns were absent from the list. These data are consistent with similar studies into the core vocabularies of adults, adolescents, and preschoolers.
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Core Vocabulary Determination for Toddlers
School of Allied Health Professions, Louisiana State University, Medical Center, 1100 Florida Avenue,
New Orleans, LA 70119-2799, USA
The aim of this study was to develop a core vocabulary list for toddlers. Naturally occurring
(i.e., unprompted) vocabulary was collected for 50 toddlers, aged from 24 to 36 months,
enrolled in five different preschools, during two different activities (play within interest
centres and snack time). Results revealed that all 50 children used nine common words across
both routines, and that the list contained pronouns, verbs, prepositions and demonstratives.
Words representing different pragmatic functions (e.g., requesting, affirming, negating) were
also included. Nouns were absent from the list. These data are consistent with similar studies
into the core vocabularies of adults, adolescents, and preschoolers.
Keywords: Core; Fringe; Vocabulary; Toddlers
Increasingly, Augmentative and Alternative
Communication (AAC) devices are being used
with toddlers (children between the ages of 24
months and 36 months) who exhibit expressive
communication delays. Several factors have
contributed to this trend in the USA, including
(a) full implementation of Part C of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA, 1997)
which includes policies, proce-
dures, and funding for assistive technology for
children birth to 3 years of age with special needs;
(b) recent advances in technology that have made
AAC devices easier to use, more accessible, and
lower in cost; and (c) wide ranging acceptance of
recommendations from AAC researchers and
practitioners (e.g., Kangas & Lloyd, 1988) to
begin implementing AAC strategies with infants
(0 – 24 months) and toddlers (24 – 36 months)
with communication delays before they attain
certain prerequisite cognitive skills.
The increased use of AAC with young children
creates several challenges for the field, in
particular, the identification of suitable vocabul-
aries when devising age-appropriate AAC
systems. Some older children and adults may be
able to generate their own messages by using the
alphabet to spell, for example; however, pre-
literate toddlers are unable to generate their own
unique messages using letter-by-letter spelling.
For these toddlers, significant adults typically
select and program vocabularies on AAC devices
using an appropriate representation system (e.g.,
pictures, icons, or photographs).
According to previous research (Beukelman,
McGinnis, & Morrow, 1991; Blackstone, 1988;
Morrow, Beukelman, & Mirenda, 1989), there are
three main approaches to selecting vocabulary for
children: developmental, environmental, and
functional. A developmental approach involves
the use of developmental vocabulary lists (Fristoe
& Lloyd, 1980; Holland, 1975; Lahey & Bloom,
1977; Reichle, Williams, & Ryan, 1981), that are
comprised of words chosen from developmental
language inventories that have been developed on
the basis of language acquisition principles.
Knowledge of the development of different word
forms (e.g., nouns, verbs) and the number of
words that children typically use at a certain age
or developmental level is used to determine
vocabulary for AAC systems. An environmental
approach (Beukelman & Garrett, 1988; Blau,
1983; Carlson, 1984; Fried-Oken & More, 1992;
Karlan & Lloyd, 1983; Mirenda, 1985) follows an
ecological inventory process, in which words
appropriate for specific communication environ-
ments (i.e., fringe vocabulary) are identified and
programmed on AAC devices. According to
Yorkston, Dowden, Honsinger, Marriner, and
Smith (1988) fringe vocabulary is specific to each
communication environment (e.g., marker, paper,
and crayon for an art activity; cookie, drink, and
spoon for a snack activity). The third approach,
functional communication, interfaces with the
pragmatic aspect of language. Vocabularies are
*Corresponding author. Tel.: (504) 942-8200. Fax: (504) 942-8253. E-mail:
Augmentative and Alternative Communication, June 2003 VOL. 19 (2), pp. 67–73
ISSN 0743-4618 print/ISSN 1477-3848 online #2003 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/0743461031000112034
chosen based on expressed communication func-
tions such as requesting, commenting, greeting,
and protesting.
Identification of core vocabularies for toddlers
involves aspects of all three approaches to
vocabulary selection. A core vocabulary consists
of words common to the vocabularies of peers
who are similar in age (Yorkston et al., 1988).
Vocabulary lists are based on the language
inventories of typically developing toddlers and
include the number of words and different word
forms that children between the ages of 24 and 36
months typically use. Core vocabularies are small
in size and do not change across environments or
between individuals. Common words used across
all communication environments comprise core
vocabulary lists, which include structure words
(e.g., want, more) that provide a framework for
functional language use.
Both core and fringe vocabularies are impor-
tant for communication purposes; however,
children appear to use core vocabulary more
frequently than fringe vocabulary (Beukelman,
Jones, & Rowan, 1989). In a study of the
frequency of word usage by six preschoolers,
Beukelman et al. (1989) analyzed language
samples for common or core words. They found
that the 25 most frequently occurring words
accounted for 45.1% of the sample collected.
Fifty of the most frequently occurring words
represented 50% of the sample, and 85% of the
sample included 250 of the most frequently used
words. Some examples of these frequently occur-
ring words included want, eat, and go – verbs,
demonstratives, propositions, and adverbs.
Nouns were not among the common or core
words most frequently used by preschoolers
within the study sample.
Despite evidence that nouns are not among
core vocabulary used by preschoolers, Adamson,
Romski, Deffenbach, and Sevcik (1992) reported
that clinicians typically select nouns representing
foods and objects as first symbols when designing
AAC systems. According to Adamson et al.
(1974) clinicians reported that nouns are chosen
because they are considered to be easiest to teach
and assess and are of considerable functional use
to the communicator. In addition, the clinicians
often omitted other words (e.g., want, more, help)
that regulate interaction from augmentative
communication systems and are harder to teach
and represent on communication systems. When
Adamson et al. (1974) added these action words
(in addition to the nouns) to communication
boards used by young males with moderate to
severe intellectual disabilities, the frequency with
which they used these boards increased from 2 to
41%. The Adamson et al. (1974) study is one of
several recent studies that have demonstrated that
combining core and fringe vocabulary words
increases the frequency of AAC use (e.g., Beukel-
man et al., 1991; Yorkston, Dowden, Honsinger,
Marriner, & Smith, 1989).
Researchers have attempted to identify lists of
words that could be included in a core vocabulary
for a variety of people who use AAC, including
adults (Balandin & Iacono, 1998); adolescents
(Adamson et al., 1992); and preschoolers (Beukel-
man et al., 1989; Fried-Oken & More, 1992). Of
these studies, Beukelman et al. (1989) is the most
relevant to the identification of a core vocabulary
for use by toddlers, given its focus on the
vocabularies of preschool children. Beukelman
and his colleagues audio-recorded and tran-
scribed the spoken communication samples of
six nondisabled preschool children (3 years 10
months to 4 years 9 months) in three different
classrooms. Three of the participants were male
and three were female. Teachers nominated these
children for participation in the study because
they were ‘active verbal participants in the
preschool program’ (p. 244).
Conversational samples collected by incon-
spicuously audio-recording the target children in
the classroom across six sessions were analyzed
for vocabulary commonality. A commonality
score of 6 indicated that all six participants
produced the targeted word, whereas a score of
1 indicated that only one participant produced
the word. Twenty-five words were identified as
the most frequently occurring words (i.e., words
that obtained a commonality score of 6). These
words were mainly verbs, prepositions, pronouns,
demonstratives, and articles. They also repre-
sented different semantic functions, including
affirmation, negation, nomination (or labeling),
and interrogation. Pragmatic functions repre-
sented included recurrence, termination, request-
ing actions, and establishing and maintaining
joint attention. No nouns were noted in this list of
25 words.
Published studies that identify core vocabul-
aries for toddlers could not be found in AAC or
related literature. Accordingly, the Beukelman et
al. (1989) study served as a foundation for the
present study, whose purpose was to begin the
process of identifying a core vocabulary for
toddlers by collecting language samples (during
play activities and functional classroom routines)
from speaking toddlers and analyzing these
samples for common words. For the purposes of
this study, a core vocabulary list was defined as a
list of words used by toddlers across all activities
during both play within interest centers and snack
time activities. The specific research questions for
the study were: (a) Does the vocabulary used by
68 M. BANAJEE et al.
toddlers differ across different activities? (b) Are
common words used by toddlers across different
activities? (c) What are the common words used
by toddlers across different activities? and (d)
What kind of syntactic, and pragmatic and
semantic functions do these common words
Fifty toddlers between the ages of 24 and 36
months served as participants in the study; 34
were girls and 16 were boys. The participants
were recruited from five daycare centres/nursery
schools in different socioeconomic areas (urban
and suburban regions) within a large metropoli-
tan area. In addition to meeting the criteria of age
and enrolment in the selected child care centres,
parent consent was obtained for each of the
children who participated.
All of the participants were screened using the
Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ), a parent-
completed child-monitoring system (Bricker &
Squires, 1999). The ASQ indicated that partici-
pants were functioning at age-appropriate devel-
opmental levels, used a variety of two to three
word utterances, spontaneously initiated interac-
tion, maintained interaction by taking turns,
terminated interaction appropriately, and consis-
tently followed simple one-step directives and
some two-step directives without gestures.
Participants were enrolled in nursery schools and
day care programs located within inner city and
suburban areas. All programs shared common
features: (a) the classroom schedule included at
least one free play and one snack time activity
during the day; (b) care and education were
provided by at least one teacher and one teacher
assistant; (c) classroom environments were orga-
nized by interest centers (e.g., blocks, dramatic
play, art); (d) the classroom schedule provided for
both small group and large group activities; and
(e) some activities were led by an adult (e.g.,
snack time) whereas others were child-directed
(e.g., center time).
Although materials across each of the class-
rooms differed, each of the classrooms had some
common materials. As an example, the block
centers contained a variety of different blocks
(e.g., Legos
, cardboard blocks) and building
materials (e.g., pop beads). Materials in the
dramatic play centers included dress up materials
(e.g., sunglasses, beads, shoes) and cooking
utensils (e.g., a stove, pots, and pans). The art
centers included materials such as paper, crayons
and markers, whereas the manipulative area
contained different cause-and-effect toys. Each
of the classrooms also included areas for reading
Across all of the classrooms, snack time
activities took place at designated tables. After
the children had washed their hands, they were
asked to sit at the snack table where they were
served by a teacher or assistant. They were given a
choice of juice or milk to drink, but they were not
given a choice of snack items; however, the
children could request more snack or drink. When
finished, the children were required to clean their
area and place trash items in a garbage can.
During snack time, the children were restricted to
the snack table; however, during free play
activities they were free to move from interest
center to interest center. Teachers and teaching
assistants interacted with the children during both
snack time and play within interest centers.
Three voice-activated tape recorders with lapel
microphones (Radio Shack
Optimus CTR-
115) were used to record the language samples.
Voice-activated tape recorders helped to record
words spoken by the target toddler only. Adult
and peer speech was too distant for the recorder
to be activated. The toddlers wore the tape
recorders at the waist in a small bag. A lapel
microphone was plugged into the tape recorder
and clipped to the collar of the toddler. High
quality microphones were used, in order to
compensate for difficulties in understanding
tape-recorded toddler speech; this provided a
clear recording of the speech used by the toddlers.
Data collection
Data were collected using the procedure outlined
in Beukelman et al. (1989). This procedure
involved audiotaping interactions among the
target children, the classroom staff, and other
classroom children during two different categories
of activities on three separate days. One category
of activities included child-directed play across
five different classroom interest centers (e.g.,
blocks, dramatic play). The second category
involved an adult-directed activity, snack time.
Each activity lasted for approximately 20 min.
During free play, children were allowed to play
freely within any of the interest centers. Audio-
tapes were reviewed for the first 150 utterances
within interest centers and snack time activities
across all three days. These 150 utterances
included the first 25 words used by each child
across the two activities on each of the 3 days.
Data were collected after the children had
become accustomed to wearing the microphones
and tape recorders. After the first 2 – 3 days, most
children (and some of their peers not included in
the study) asked to wear the tape recorders and
would talk about them with adults in the centers.
It took an average of 2 weeks across the five
daycare centers/nursery schools for the children
to wear the apparatus and resume their typical
play behaviors without distractions from the
recorders. Data were not collected during this
phase of the study.
Data analysis
The language samples recorded during both
categories of activities on all 3 days from all 50
children were analyzed. Three students enrolled in
a communication disorders Master’s level
program were trained by the first author to
develop a written, verbatim transcription of all
of the language samples. During the transcription
process, audiotapes were stopped after each
utterance and a verbatim transcription was
completed of the utterance. Unintelligible utter-
ances were omitted from the transcription. If
intelligibility problems were identified during any
point in the day, the entire day’s recording was
omitted and was not used for transcription.
Analyses were conducted to examine common-
ality among the words across activities and
children (as outlined by Beukelman et al., 1989).
Each new word was given a score of 1. If the same
child used a particular word in both activities, the
word was given a score of 2. A word used in both
activities on all 3 days was given a score of 6. In
addition, words with the same commonality score
were ranked according to frequency of use, which
was defined as the percentage of the number of
times each word was used in the language sample.
Using the method outlined by Miller (1989), type-
token ratios (number of different words divided
by the total number of words for each activity)
were calculated for all 50 children per activity for
each day. Average type-token ratio scores were
also reported for all 50 children per activity across
all 3 days. These ratios were compared with type-
token ratios of 3 year old children as reported by
Miller (1989).
Interrater reliability
Reliability was calculated on 20% of all word lists
across both activities (free play and snack time).
The first author conducted reliability checks
across language samples collected from one center
activity and one snack time activity of at least 10
of the children. Reliability scores were obtained
by dividing the number of agreements between
each student and the first author by the total
number of agreements and disagreements multi-
plied by 100. Mean reliability for sample
transcription, across all students, was 91%
(range = 86 – 95%). Mean reliability for the first
student was 89% (range = 86 – 92%), for the
second student it was 91% (range = 89 – 93%),
and for the third student it was 93%
(range = 91 – 95%).
Table 1 shows the list of words that achieved a
commonality score of 6 (nine words), 5, and 4.
TABLE 1 Words with commonality scores of 6, 5, and 4 and their frequency of use
Commonality Score
Words Frequency Words Frequency Words Frequency
I 9.5 mine 5.8 a 4.6
no 8.5 the 5.2 go 4.2
yes/yeah 7.6 is 4.9 what 3.1
want 5.0 on 2.8 some 2.3
It 4.9 in 2.7 help 2.1
that 4.9 here 2.7 All done/ finished 1.0
my 3.8 out 2.4
you 3.2 off 2.3
more 2.6
Note: Frequency is presented as a percentage.
70 M. BANAJEE et al.
The frequency of use of these words was
converted into a percentage score by dividing
the total number of words and multiplying by
100. As is evident from Table 1, eight common
words were used by most of the toddlers across
most of the settings, and six common words were
used by some of the children across some of the
Table 2 presents type-token ratios for each
activity on each day, as well as average scores of
each activity across all 3 days. These type-token
ratios were compared with those developed for
this age group (Miller, 1989) and were found to be
age appropriate. Ratios obtained during snack
time activity were lower than those obtained
during free play activities because of the limited
number of choices provided during this adult-led
The data were analyzed for syntax, semantic,
and pragmatic functions using the procedures
developed by Miller (1989) for analyzing free-
speech samples. The core vocabulary was found
to serve different syntactic, semantic, and prag-
matic functions. Core vocabulary words
contained demonstratives (that), verbs (want),
pronouns (my), prepositions (on), and articles
(the). No nouns were found in this list. Semantic
functions included use of agents (I), objects (you),
labeling objects (that) and actions (go), possession
(my), affirmation (yes), negation (no), location
(in), interrogation (what), quantity (some), and
termination (finished). Pragmatic functions
expressed included initiating interaction by
attracting attention (you), maintaining joint
attention (this), indicating recurrence (more),
and terminating interaction (finished).
Vocabulary selection is a difficult process when
designing age-appropriate AAC systems for
young children who do not speak. This is
especially true for children who are still preliterate
and, therefore, are unable to express their needs
and wants using traditional orthography (i.e.,
either selection of whole words or individual
letters to spell words). The literature review
indicated that some core words are used across
different activities of older children (Beukelman et
al., 1989), adolescents (Adamson et al., 1992), and
adults (Balandin & Iacono 1998), but information
was not available for toddlers. In the present
study, we examined vocabulary words used by 50
toddlers, in an attempt to redress this gap in the
The results of this study revealed that nine
common words were used across child-directed
free play and adult-directed activities within
nursery school and day programs. A further
analysis of the language sample revealed the use
of words to express different parts of syntactic,
semantic, and pragmatic functions. A lack of
nouns was noted in the common words used
across different activities. This finding seems
logical because activities in a typical classroom
contain different materials and toys. Further-
more, this finding reflects those obtained by
Beukelman et al. (1988), whose vocabulary lists
similarly contained very few if any nouns. The
addition of words from other syntax classes (e.g.,
verbs, demonstratives, and pronouns) helped to
increase frequency of use of the communication
systems (e.g., Beukelman et al., 1991; Yorkston et
al., 1989).
In the present study, the types of words in the
core vocabulary appear to be similar in syntax,
semantic, and pragmatic functions to those
identified by previous investigators of core
vocabulary for preschoolers (Fried-Oken &
More, 1992), adolescents (Adamson et al.,
1994), and adults (Balandin & Iacono, 1998).
The nine core words identified by this research
project were all included in the 25 most frequently
used words identified by Beukelman et al. (1989).
The similarities to past research help strengthen
the premise that a common core vocabulary can
be applied across activities and environments.
Clinical Implications
The results from the present study indicate the
need to include words that enable young children
to meet a variety of syntactic, semantic, and
pragmatic functions on their communication
devices. Some words that meet these needs might
be difficult to graphically represent, which may
result in their being omitted from the initial
overlays developed for communication systems.
Use of words that are difficult to represent
graphically may be taught to young children by
modeling the use of the words within activities. In
addition, consistently pairing the picture or
symbol (e.g., the Picture Communication Symbol
for ‘want’) with the word programmed on the
device should help to teach a child to use the same
symbol to request objects.
TABLE 2 Average type-token ratios across participants
per activity for each day
Activity Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Snack time 0.41 0.42 0.41 0.4133
Free time 0.44 0.43 0.44 0.4433
Words that were less frequently used by the
toddlers were also identified (Table 1). The words
from these lists included an extended core group
of words to draw from for vocabulary selection
for communication overlays to be used on voice
output communication devices. Thus, if a toddler
was able to use more than nine words, the word
lists with commonality scores of 5 and 4 (Table 1)
were used. These words also were found within
the 50 most frequently used words as identified by
Beukelman et al. (1989).
Research Implications
Although the results of the present study appear
to be promising, they should be interpreted with
caution because of certain limitations. First, the
size of the sample was small (i.e., 50 toddlers);
second, the sample used was a convenient one
(i.e., language samples were collected from
daycare or nursery centers with which the authors
had previous relationships); and third, the sample
involved more girls than boys, and the partici-
pants were predominantly Caucasian, which
means that the core vocabulary of the sample
may not be representative of the core vocabulary
used by children of different ethnic, cultural, or
socioeconomic backgrounds.
In addition, because the vocabulary was collected
across activities in daycare/nursery school settings,
it may not be representative of core vocabularies
used by children across different environments
(e.g., home, playgrounds, and grocery stores).
Marvin, Beukelman, Brockhaus, and Kast (1994),
found that children use different topics in the
preschool setting than at home, and argued that this
probably resulted from being exposed to different
toys, people, and routines (e.g., circle time in school
versus bath time at home). However, some overlap
of vocabulary across the two environments would
be expected as a result of similarities between
routines (e.g., meal times or toy play). Routines in
homes (e.g., dressing, bathing) may include
different materials and interactions that could
create the need to use different vocabulary words
than those used during routines in daycare centers.
Children who play on playground equipment that
requires them to use gross motor movements and
activities may need to use different words while
interacting with their peers and other adults than
they would during indoor activities, such as those
utilized in this study. Accordingly, just has been the
case for topics (Marvin et al., 1994), there is a need
to investigate vocabularies across many types of
environments, in order to ensure the validity of a
given core vocabulary.
In addition, words identified as core vocabulary
for toddlers who are not disabled may or may not
be appropriate for use by toddlers with expressive
communication delays. The core vocabulary list
identified in the present study needs to be used
with children who rely on AAC because they
either experience communication delays or are
unable to use speech, in order to determine how
useful the vocabulary is for them across different
Another potential limitation of the present
study is that only the first 25 words expressed
by each child per day per activity were used in the
analyses. These did, however, combine into a
corpus of 150 words in total for use in the
analyses. Typically, the middle 25 words are
included in a language sample (Miller, 1989);
however, this procedure was not used because
some language samples did not have sufficient
content. Some children, for example, produced
only approximately 25 words within the 20 min
activity. Although type-token ratios (calculated
for all 50 children per activity for each day) were
found to be age appropriate when compared to
those reported by Miller (1989), further investiga-
tion using larger vocabulary samples may be
Further research is needed to investigate the
effectiveness of integrating core vocabulary words
with fringe vocabulary words on communication
devices. Researchers (Fristoe & Lloyd, 1988;
Holland, 1975; Lahey, 1977) have suggested that
core words and fringe vocabulary words be
included in the first lexical words selected for
language intervention. Additionally, researchers
and practitioners have recommended that fringe
words appropriate for different activities be used
together with core words in order to develop a
rounded communication system that could be
used across various activities and daily routines
(e.g., Beukelman et al., 1991; Yorkston et al.,
1989). Systematic investigations with toddlers are
needed to determine the utility of AAC devices
programmed with core words only, fringe
vocabulary words only, and core and fringe
words integrated within the system or stored
separately in the system in a way that may be easy
to retrieve and recall (e.g., in a different area for
each child or page). Future studies are also
needed to evaluate the utility of the core
vocabulary identified in this study on commu-
nication devices used by a variety of toddlers
across a variety of activities.
1 Part C of the IDEA provides funding for the provision of
developmental services such as special instruction,
speech, and occupational and physical therapy to
children with disabilities
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... Most previous studies in which core vocabulary has been identified have focused on preschool children with typical development (see Banajee, Dicarlo, & Buras Stricklin, 2003;Fallon, Light, & Paige, 2001;Mngomezulu, T€ onsing, Dada, & Bokaba, 2019;Trembath et al., 2007). For school-age children, vocabulary selection is a more difficult process as vocabulary is needed to support the growing and complex communication demands of the school environment. ...
... Studies in which spoken language samples are collected usually use a specified frequency and sometimes commonality of words to extract items that would be considered core. The definition of commonality varies and can refer to the number of language samples in which a word was used (Banajee et al., 2003) or the number of participants who used a word (Mngomezulu et al., 2019;Trembath et al., 2007). Trembath et al. considered words to be core if they were used by at least 50% of the participants (commonality) and had a frequency of at least 0.5 per 1000 words. ...
... It is noteworthy that the emphasis of key word signing is very different from the spoken language used without sign, in that it supports the information-carrying concepts in a sentence (usually nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives) with manual signs (Dark, Brownlie, & Bloomberg, 2019). In contrast, core vocabularies based on spoken language samples contain a large amount of function or structure words, such as conjunctions, auxiliary verbs, and articles (Banajee et al., 2003;Boenisch & Soto, 2015;Trembath et al., 2007). ...
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Key word signing, an unaided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system, is commonly used by children with Down syndrome who attend mainstream primary schools. However, to ensure the successful use of key word signing within a mainstream environment, a meaningful, contextually appropriate sign vocabulary must be available to all communication partners. The aim of this study was to develop a core school-based key word signing vocabulary to facilitate effective communication between children with Down syndrome and their communication partners in the first year of mainstream primary school.
... A major component of this project was choosing the core and fringe vocabulary to include on the board for the target population. Core vocabulary refers to common language that is used most often across most environments, contexts, and conversations (Banajee et al., 2003). This language includes question words such as "what" and "where," personal identification words such as "me" and "his," general nouns, verbs, feelings, and smaller words, such as prepositions and articles. ...
... This language includes question words such as "what" and "where," personal identification words such as "me" and "his," general nouns, verbs, feelings, and smaller words, such as prepositions and articles. Fringe vocabulary refers to the context-specific vocabulary that changes with the environment or conversation (Banajee et al., 2003). ...
... Indeed, there are differences in suggested dialogic reading procedures for 2to 3-year-olds and 4-to 5-year-olds (Pearson Learning Group, 2006). Although core vocabulary studies indicate similarity in the most frequent words that toddlers (e.g., Banajee, DiCarlo, & Stricklin, 2003) and preschoolers say (e.g., Trembath et al., 2007), it is possible that in this context there may be a different percentage of book-specific words or entirely different types of words that are used. This possibility demonstrates the importance of examining potential age-related differences in vocabulary use. ...
Shared reading is an important context for the development of communication, language, and literacy skills in young children. Research conducted with children who require augmentative and alternative communication has indicated that dialogic reading techniques utilized in shared reading can aid in the development of communication skills. One area that has not been investigated is which words children should have access to when engaging in these types of activities. This study reports the results of an investigation focused on the words 5-year-old children without disabilities said during a dialogic reading procedure that occurred with two books, Corduroy and Whistle for Willie. When reading Corduroy and Whistle for Willie, 59 common words said when reading each book accounted for 62.45% and 64.83% of the total words said, respectively. Many of these words were similar to those identified in studies of core vocabulary across a variety of contexts. For Corduroy and Whistle for Willie, 13 and 11 of these 59 words were directly related to the book, respectively. This accounted for approximately 10% of the most commonly used words for each book. The implications of this finding are discussed relative to vocabulary selection for children with complex communication needs during shared reading experiences.
... The major part of the AR application was powered by Unity Engine, whilst the eye-tracking server was written in Python. The main interface, the communication board, was designed based on frequently used words [14] [15] [16]. In total, 98 words were adopted into the vocabulary of the communication board (Fig.2). ...
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Purpose: This study aimed to explore the feasibility of a telepractice communication partner intervention for children who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and their parents. Method: Five children (aged 3;4-12;9 [years;months]) with severe expressive communication impairments who use AAC and their parents enrolled in a randomized, multiple-probe design across participants. A speech-language pathologist taught parents to use a least-to-most prompting procedure, Read, Ask, Answer, Prompt (RAAP), during book reading with their children. Parent instruction was provided through telepractice during an initial 60-min workshop and five advanced practice sessions (M = 28.41 min). The primary outcome was parents' correct use of RAAP, measured by the percentage of turns parents applied the strategies correctly. Child communication turns were a secondary, exploratory outcome. Results: There was a functional relation (intervention effect) between the RAAP instruction and parents' correct use of RAAP. All parents showed a large, immediate increase in the level of RAAP use with a stable, accelerating (therapeutic) trend to criterion after the intervention was applied. Increases in child communication turns were inconsistent. One child increased his communication turns. Four children demonstrated noneffects; their intervention responses overlapped with their baseline performance. Conclusions: Telepractice RAAP strategy instruction is a promising service delivery for communication partner training and AAC interventions. Future research should examine alternate observation and data collection and ways to limit communication partner instruction barriers.
Objectives: There are increasing demands for personal assistance services which help the disabled to carry out their daily life. To use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) approaches more effectively in daily communication, it is essential to include the appropriate core and fringe vocabulary in the AAC system. Considering the fact that there are few studies in Korea which have reported fringe vocabulary compared to core vocabulary, this study is aimed to develop a noun list that can be used to promote interactive communication between the disabled and their assistants in each communication situation.Methods: A literature review was conducted to elicit frequently used nouns in each communication situation. Then, a survey was carried out to identify nouns with high word commonality across 105 personal assistants.Results: Sixty-three nouns with more than 50% of word commonality across personal assistants were identified from the 244 fringe vocabulary; consisting of 112 nouns in the area of going out, 29 in cleaning, 27 in personal hygiene, 26 in cooking, 20 in meal supporting, 20 in other service areas, and 10 in commuting.Conclusion: The identified nouns are expected to help people with complex communication needs to express their needs and wants more clearly and effectively using those nouns embedded in their AAC systems. The list of nouns can be used not only for people who receive personal assistance services, but also for people who rely on AAC systems to express their daily needs.
Purpose This study is aimed to identify the high-frequency vocabulary (HFV), otherwise termed “core vocabulary” for adults with complex communication needs. Method Three major characteristics of the HFV—a relatively small number of different words (NDW), a relatively high word frequency, and a high word commonality across speakers—were examined so as not to lose any candidate words for the HFV. Specifically, instead of applying the traditionally used cutoff word frequency of 0.5‰, a grouped frequency distribution was used to examine the appropriate frequency ranges to determine the HFV candidates. To improve the representativeness of the HFV across ages, social backgrounds, conversation situations, and topics, 330,000 spoken words of 66 adults (29 men and 37 women; M age = 45.47 years, SD = 16.07) were extracted from the British National Corpus database for analysis. Results A distinct pattern of NDW was observed from the frequency of 0.1‰ in the grouped frequency distribution. In total, 671 words were found to be candidates for the HFV, accounting for 90.94% of the total sample words. After the word commonality analysis indicated at least 80% commonality across speakers, 203 words were selected for the final HFV; accountability was calculated at 80.62%. Conclusions With the innovative word analysis approach, this study provided an HFV list that can be used for a wide range of conversation topics. This method provides a scientific and principled approach to identifying and organizing vocabulary for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention that does not exist in many AAC resources that promote “core vocabulary” with identifying the source for vocabulary selection.
To help infer the meanings of novel words, children frequently capitalize on their current linguistic knowledge to constrain the hypothesis space. Children's syntactic knowledge of function words has been shown to be especially useful in helping to infer the meanings of novel words, with most previous research focusing on how children use preceding determiners and pronouns/auxiliary to infer whether a novel word refers to an entity or an action, respectively. In the current visual world experiment, we examined whether 28‐ to 32‐month‐olds could exploit their lexical semantic knowledge of an additional class of function words—prepositions—to learn novel nouns. During the experiment, children were tested on their ability to use the prepositions in, on, under, and next to to identify novel creatures displayed on a screen (e.g., The wug is on the table), as well as their ability to later identify the creature without accompanying prepositions (e.g., Look at the wug). Children overall demonstrated understanding of all the prepositions but next to and were able to use their knowledge of prepositions to learn the associations between novel words and their intended referents, as shown by greater‐than chance looks to the target referent when no prepositional phrase was provided.
For children with complex communication needs in the early stages of language development, access to appropriate vocabulary provides a means for social interaction and participation, and the foundation for the acquisition of grammar and other language related skills. While numerous resources are available to support decision making for speakers of English, there is a pressing need to rapidly expand such resources for other languages. Spanish is the official language in 20 countries, and in other countries (e.g., United States) Spanish-speaking communities represent a substantial proportion of the population. The aim of this study was to produce a developmentally-relevant word list for use by Spanish-speaking children in the early stages of language development. The list was developed from an analysis of overlap between published and validated lists of words produced by young Spanish speaking children with typical development. The list includes a wide range of word classes and semantic categories and is proposed as a tool to assist professionals, families and software developers in the process of selecting an initial lexicon for children who require AAC and are learning Spanish. Implications of our findings for vocabulary selection and future research directions are discussed.
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The purpose of this study was to develop a language-based augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) diagnostic classification system (LAAC-D) that can be used in the assessment and intervention phases of AAC for people with complex communication needs in Korea. A comprehensive literature review was conducted focusing on linguistic competence and the four major factors (intentionality, symbolic use, word combination, and grammatical complexity) that play essential roles in classifying communication and expressive language development stages. Seven pieces of literature reported communication levels that are being used for AAC diagnostic system. Among them, only one reflected all factors into the communication level. Most of the literature did not consider the grammatical complexity factor. After examining the characteristics and limitations of each literature, the LAAC-D was developed consolidating the evidence and reflecting the four factors. The characteristics and clinical implications of LAAC-D were discussed.
Ten professionals (five speech pathologists, three rehabilitation counsellors, and two teachers) participated in a survey to investigate their ability to predict the topics and vocabulary of meal-break conversations at work. Participants selected two topics that they thought were likely to occur during meal-break conversations between nondisabled employees for each day of the week. They selected five key words appropriate to each chosen topic. The topics and key words were analyzed for frequency and commonality and compared to the topics and vocabulary from actual meal-break conversations in the workplace. The professionals accurately predicted some topics that occurred in the actual conversational sample. However, one-third of the key words (33%) predicted by the participants did not occur in the conversational sample. The implications of these findings for vocabulary selection for augmented communicators are discussed.
This article reviews literature describing guidelines for selecting 1) signing as an augmentative communication mode and 2) initial signs to teach severely handicapped learners. A review of the literature indicates that numerous guidelines are available, and although they appear to have face validity, few have received empirical scrutiny. Criteria are inconsistently applied across the literature. Each identified criterion pertinent to selecting initial signs is discussed, based on available theoretical positions and data. Recommendations are made for systematic evaluation of identified criteria.
Because nonspeaking preschool students cannot independently generate their own unique messages, the burden of vocabulary selection for their augmentative and alternative communication systems is the responsibility of adults. In order to identify a core list of vocabulary used in the preschool setting, the vocabulary use patterns of nondisabled peers in integrated preschool classrooms were studied. Language samples that ranged from 2 to 7 hours in length were recorded for six preschool children. These samples were then analyzed to determine frequency of word occurrence, number of total words, number of different words, and the consistency (commonality) with which individual words were produced by the six subjects.
Appropriate vocabulary selection is a critical aspect of the development of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) approaches. Many sources of vocabulary lists are found in the literature. The general purpose of this investigation is to compare and contrast a number of vocabulary lists in an effort to assess the usefulness of these lists as a source of vocabulary items for adolescent and adult AAC users. Results of a comparison of eleven standard vocabulary lists from various fields of investigation and nine user vocabulary lists from a group of nonspeaking adults indicated that all were small in comparison to the range of possible words and all contained relatively simple words. These vocabulary lists differed from one another in that the majority of words were unique to a single list and that there was not extensive overlap between various pairs of vocabulary lists. When standard vocabulary lists were compared with user lists, results indicated that nearly one-third of the words in user vocabulary lists were not found in even the largest of the standard vocabulary lists. Development of composite vocabulary lists based on carefully selected groups of AAC users is discussed as a future research need. These composite lists may serve as a source of “core” vocabulary for use in AAC systems.
Ten professionals (five speech pathologists, three rehabilitation counsellors, and two teachers) participated in a survey to investigate their ability to predict the topics and vocabulary of meal-break conversations at work. Participants selected two topics that they thought were likely to occur during meal-break conversations between nondisabled employees for each day of the week. They selected five key words appropriate to each chosen topic. The topics and key words were analyzed for frequency and commonality and compared to the topics and vocabulary from actual meal-break conversations in the workplace. The professionals accurately predicted some topics that occurred in the actual conversational sample. However, one-third of the key words (33%) predicted by the participants did not occur in the conversational sample. The implications of these findings for vocabulary selection for augmented communicators are discussed.
The purpose of this article is to review those factors influencing vocabulary selection and retention for persons who use augmentative and alternative communication systems. The vocabulary needs of literate individuals who are able to spell their messages are discussed separately from the needs of preliterate or nonliterate individuals who are unable to spell and must be supplied with extensive vocabularies to cover their communication requirements. Research regarding informants and informant tools in the vocabulary selection process is reviewed.
Pictorial communication systems are often overlooked for nonverbal, severely handicapped persons who are physically able-bodied, because of some misconceptions about their appropriateness and adaptability. This paper reviews some of the primary considerations in selecting appropriate pictorial systems for individual students. Potential problems related to communication book design and layout are presented, with suggestions for creating adaptations to circumvent these difficulties. Strategies related to vocabulary selection and instruction are also included.
In this article, the process of vocabulary selection is described for a nonreading, severely physically disabled adult for whom an initial expressive communication approach was being developed. The process included use of environmental inventories, communication diaries, and review of standard vocabulary lists as a means of message selection. A comparison of this user's vocabulary list with 11 standard vocabulary lists indicated that even the largest of these vocabulary lists do not contain all the words considered important by the user. Thus, review of standard vocabulary lists may be considered a necessary but not sufficient aspect of vocabulary selection.