Language Acquisition With Limited Input: Romanian Institution and Foster Care Purpose To provide the first detailed information about native language abilities of children who are or had been institutionalized. Method The language of ten 30-month-old children raised in Romanian orphanages was compared with that of 30 chronological-age-matched peers: 10 children who had moved recently from orphanages to foster ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2007
Language Acquisition With Limited Input: Romanian Institution and Foster Care
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jennifer Windsor
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Leslie E. Glaze
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Sebastian F. Koga
    Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Contact author: Jennifer Windsor, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, 115 Shevlin Hall, University of Minnesota, 164 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: windsor@umn.edu.
  • Sebastian F. Koga is now at the Department of Neurosurgery, University of Virginia.
    Sebastian F. Koga is now at the Department of Neurosurgery, University of Virginia.×
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Healthcare Settings / Language Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2007
Language Acquisition With Limited Input: Romanian Institution and Foster Care
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2007, Vol. 50, 1365-1381. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/095)
History: Received July 24, 2006 , Revised December 1, 2006 , Accepted February 26, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2007, Vol. 50, 1365-1381. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/095)
History: Received July 24, 2006; Revised December 1, 2006; Accepted February 26, 2007

Purpose To provide the first detailed information about native language abilities of children who are or had been institutionalized.

Method The language of ten 30-month-old children raised in Romanian orphanages was compared with that of 30 chronological-age-matched peers: 10 children who had moved recently from orphanages to foster care, 10 children in foster families for at least 1 year, and 10 children raised in their biological families. Ten language measures were obtained from communication during play and from parent/caregiver report.

Results Children who were institutionalized and children in foster care for a brief time showed substantial language delays, with some of these children not yet producing intelligible words. Children in foster care for at least 1 year approximated the expressive output and receptive language of children who had never been institutionalized; however, they showed lower expressive grammatical abilities. Within the group of children who were institutionalized, the presence of a preferred caregiver and a measure of development, greater height, were associated with greater language output. Although children in orphanages produced fewer complex forms than children in biological families, there were no systematic qualitative differences in language structure across groups.

Conclusion Foster care facilitated language growth after substantial language delays associated with institutionalization.

Acknowledgments
The Bucharest Early Intervention Project was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Early Experience and Brain Development (Charles A. Nelson, network chair). The research reported here also was funded by a grant from the University of Minnesota to Jennifer Windsor and Leslie E. Glaze.
We are very grateful to Nicoletta Corlan and Octavian Cornea for their expertise in transcribing the children’s language samples; to Gwen Gordon, Erika Hoyt, Cornelia Iucha, and Lacey Thomas for their help in data management; and to Ben Munson for his comments on an earlier version of this article. Portions of this research were presented at the 2005 Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Atlanta, Georgia, and the 2006 Symposium for Research on Child Language Disorders, Madison, Wisconsin.
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