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Fostering Literal and Inferential Language Skills in Head Start Preschoolers With Language Impairment Using Scripted Book-Sharing Discussions

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Preschoolers with language impairment have difficulties with both literal and inferential language, both of which are critical to later reading comprehension. Because these children are known to be at risk for later reading comprehension difficulties, it is important to design and test interventions that foster both literal and inferential language skills. Using a randomized pretest-posttest control group design, we investigated whether an 8-week, one-on-one book-sharing intervention would improve both the literal and inferential language skills of Head Start preschoolers with language impairments. Thirty children were randomly assigned to either a control group that received no intervention or to a treatment group that received twice-weekly 15-min sessions in which adults read books and asked both literal and inferential questions about the books using scripts that were embedded throughout the text. Treatment and control groups were compared using pre- and posttest scores on 2 measures of literal and 1 measure of inferential language skill. Significant group differences, and medium to large effect sizes, were found between pre- and posttest scores for all 3 measures. These findings suggest that book sharing with embedded questions that target both literal and inferential language skills can result in gains on both types of language in this population. Future studies with larger number of children are needed to corroborate these findings.
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... The extra-textual talk provided by the adult during DR reading has been significantly associated with improvements in oral language skills (van Kleeck, 2008;van Kleeck et al., 2006). Specifically, asking open-ended questions, both literal and inferential, and evaluating a child's response have been found to increase children's word learning (Ard & Beverly, 2004;Blewitt et al., 2009;Trivette et al., 2012) and provides opportunities for children to practice and engage with language (Walsh & Hodge, 2018;Zucker et al., 2010). ...
... One way to improve implementation of DR strategies is preplanning when and where to use the PEER sequence. Utilizing scripts is an EB scaffold that has been associated with improved language instruction (Barnes & Dickinson, 2017;van Kleeck et al., 2006). Scripts can be personalized to meet the needs of specific educators, detail the specific instruction, and are used to ensure the intervention is natural and effective (Barnett et al., 2007). ...
... Scripts can be personalized to meet the needs of specific educators, detail the specific instruction, and are used to ensure the intervention is natural and effective (Barnett et al., 2007). Several studies have utilized scripts to improve treatment fidelity and make the intervention accessible for all educators to implement (Desmarais et al., 2013;Goldstein et al., 2016;van Kleeck et al., 2006). ...
Article
Purpose This tutorial is designed for speech-language pathologists who supervise speech-language pathology assistants (SLP-As) and/ or paraeducators. SLP-As and paraeducators often support young children with disabilities within early childhood settings, but do not always have access to professional development to learn and/or enhance their skill set. Practice-based coaching (PBC) provides a collaborative framework under which professionals can effectively implement instructional strategies with fidelity to support preschool children with language delays. Conclusions In this tutorial, we will share the components of PBC including implementation materials that can be immediately utilized by SLPs. We will also share methods for embedding effective vocabulary instruction into shared book reading sessions to ensure early literacy instruction is more accessible to learners with varying educational needs.
... This resulted in an exhaustive and mutually exclusive coding system for all teacher questions and subsequent child responses, as well as all the remaining teacher and child utterances. The codes for the teacher questions and child utterances were based on a framework that differentiates between four levels within literal and inferential language in teacher and child speech (see Blank et al., 1978;Danis et al., 2000;van Kleeck et al., 2006;Zucker et al., 2010). The exhaustive coding system for all the teacher and child utterances, as well as our analytic procedure, is presented and explained in the following section. ...
... In the longer run, DLLs' exposure to inferential talk and ability to answer higher-order inferential questions can be a pathway to greater language and literacy skills (Tompkins et al., 2017). Moreover, when teachers model inferential questioning behavior during shared reading, children learn ways to ask questions about the text that are important for their future text comprehension development (van Kleeck et al., 2006). ...
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Research Findings: This study used sequential analysis to investigate teachers’ use of literal and inferential questions and their relation to children’s responses during small-group shared reading in preschool. Participants were 202 dual-language learners (age 3–5 years) and 53 preschool teachers in multiethnic preschool classrooms in Norway. Teacher questions and child responses were coded for their inferential level, ranging from lower-order literal to higher-order inferential levels. Sequential analysis was employed to examine in which ways dual-language learners aligned their responses with the level of the preschool teachers’ questions. We found that teacher questions were highly likely to elicit child responses on the same level, with higher-order inferential questions consistently followed by higher-order inferential child responses. Practice or Policy: The results suggest that preschool teachers can use not only literal but also more challenging inferential questions with dual-language learners and in this way, actively engage them in complex inferential talk during shared reading.
... Miss Sietske talks with him about the weather in Thailand, his home country. The weather in Thailand is an abstract topic, as the information is not directly available, goes beyond the here and now, and requires the child to make inferences (Van Kleeck et al., 2006). Especially for a child with lower literacy skills in Dutch, like Maxime, it might be hard to respond to such a question in Dutch. ...
... In Excerpt 5, Miss Sietske asks the class to tell "something special" about the mushrooms -made out of a small building block and a muffin cupon the table in the center of the circle. Determining what is special about something is a complex question, because it requires abstract thinking (Van Kleeck et al., 2006). After an interruption, Miss Sietske asks who wants to take a closer look. ...
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With a growing number of multilingual children entering early childhood education, teachers are challenged to create appropriate learning opportunities for all children. Given diverse literacy skills and cultural backgrounds, early childhood educators might provide different support to children after an inappropriate child response depending on the child’s language background. Therefore, the present study aimed to identify different types of teacher third-position support (i.e., support provided after not being satisfied with the child response or nonresponse) in interaction with multilingual and monolingual kindergartners. We conducted a multiple case study in which three kindergarten teachers and seven multilingual and five monolingual children were observed in the classroom during one school year. Support sequences were analyzed using content analysis. We identified six different types of teacher third-position support in educational interactions with multilingual children: allocate turn to another child, provision of hints, reduction of choice, establishing common ground, modeling, and using the home language. Teachers tended to use reduction of choice more with multilingual children, whereas provision of hints was used more with monolingual children. Overall, the presented study enabled us to obtain an in-depth view of how teachers differentially adopt types of third-position support in interaction with multilingual and monolingual kindergartners.
... Therefore, results indicate that the familiarity ratings that are provided by children and those by adults on behalf of children are not related. In addition to contradicting findings around familiarity of idioms, these findings are also inconsistent with findings in other fields such as vocabulary which show that familiarity usually supports skills (Gray, 2005;Kurnaz, 2016). Although it may be challenging to recruit the number of child raters required to complete such long and complicated idiom familiarity rating task, issues related to idiom familiarity ratings could be overcome by recruiting TD children the same age as those targeted for assessment to rate idioms for familiarity. ...
... The intervention itself could also be adapted further to better support improvement of receptive idiom skills. Similar intervention studies have shown that intervention methods involving questioning and discussion around the meaning of various non-literal phrases within short narratives is effective for improving inferential comprehension in children with DLD (Desmarais et al, 2013;Van Kleeck et al, 2006;Dawes et al, 2018). Therefore, future work could investigate the effectiveness of idiom intervention for improving receptive idiom skills and generalising idiom skills to new idiom items within intervention sessions. ...
Thesis
Introduction: Nine to 16 year olds with developmental language disorder (DLD) tend to have significant difficulties with understanding and using idioms. However, research investigating methods to assess or improve these skills has been limited. Aims: 1. Examine idiom skills in Typically Developing (TD) children and children with DLD. 2. Investigate the effectiveness of idiom skills intervention delivered through 1:1 SLT and classroom-based sessions for children with DLD. Methods: Seventy-two TD children attending mainstream schools and fifty-eight children attending a specialist school for children with DLD completed a bespoke idiom skills assessment. Forty-nine of the children with DLD (aged nine-16) then received twenty idiom skill intervention sessions during two school terms. Following a baseline period of one term, twenty-five participants (aged 11-16) received 1:1 intervention for one term and classroom-based intervention for the next term. The other twenty-four participants (aged 9-16) received classroom-based followed by 1:1 intervention. Classroom-based intervention was delivered collaboratively by English teachers and SLTs during English lessons and 1:1 intervention by the participants’ usual SLT. Intervention was the same for both delivery methods involving a prescriptive powerpoint presentation and worksheet alongside discussion. All participants were assessed on their ability to identify, understand, explain and use idioms before and after each intervention, using a bespoke assessment including 48 idioms which were randomly assigned to three sets: 16 idioms targeted in 1:1 SLT, 16 targeted in classroom-based intervention and a control group of 16 idioms that were not targeted. Results and Conclusions: TD participants achieved higher scores than DLD participants on all aspects of testing. Both 1:1 SLT and classroom-based delivery methods were effective for improving idiom skills but there was not sufficient evidence to show that idiom skills generalised. Intervention can be effective for improving the idiom skills of nine-16 year olds with severe DLD. More research is required to investigate methods to generalise idiom skill components, especially receptive idiom skills.
... Precisely, children as young as 4 to 5 years of age were asked to infer a character's emotion while discovering fictional stories, in responding online to questions that interrupted their listening session. By using a four-facial emotional expression scale (i.e., four emoticons were used to display joy, sadness, anger and fear), at different moments in the story, they were is then transferred to other general reading comprehension contexts (see de Koning et al., 2020;van Kleeck, Vander Woude & Hammett, 2006). In all these three sets of studies, the common story comprehension component examined by researchers is children's inference skills. ...
... Various terms have been employed by researchers to describe this kind of dialog that emphasizes higher-level thinking skills (Massey et al., 2008;van Kleeck et al., 2006). In contrast to "immediate talk" which is directly tied to perceptually available information (i.e., a picture in a book), "non-immediate talk" uses perceptually available information as a catalyst for discussion of outside experiences, related ideas, or inferred meaning (Dickinson et al., 1992;De Temple & Snow, 2003). ...
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Recent research has provided mixed evidence on the promise of classroom-based interventions for supporting young children’s development of executive functions (EF). To advance intervention efforts, it is necessary to identify specific types of interactions that might support the development of EF in early childhood. Through a correlational design, this study explores the relationship between higher-level, teacher-child interaction in Head Start classrooms and children’s EF. Higher-level interaction was measured using both global and fine-grained approaches. Children completed task-based assessments targeting individual components of EF at the beginning and end of a preschool year. Research Findings: Hierarchical linear modeling revealed that the frequency of teachers’ higher-level questions was significantly associated with a spring composite EF score and spring cognitive flexibility, controlling for fall scores and other covariates. A global measure of higher-level interaction was negatively associated with spring inhibitory control, controlling for fall scores. Neither measure of higher-level interaction was associated with spring working memory. Practice and Policy: This study has methodological implications for the value in measuring teacher-child interaction using more fine-grained approaches in order to reveal important associations with child outcomes. In relation to practice, this study suggests that intervention efforts to support teachers’ use of higher-level interaction strategies may support children’s development of EF.
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