Guiding Language Development How African American Mothers and Their Infants Structure Play Interactions Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1999
Guiding Language Development
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carol Scheffner Hammer
    The Pennsylvania State University University Park
  • Amy L. Weiss
    The University of Iowa Iowa City
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: cjh22@psu.edu
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1999
Guiding Language Development
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1999, Vol. 42, 1219-1233. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4205.1219
History: Received December 9, 1997 , Accepted March 31, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1999, Vol. 42, 1219-1233. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4205.1219
History: Received December 9, 1997; Accepted March 31, 1999

This investigation explored how African American mothers and their infants at the single-word stage of development structured their play and communicated with one another. Six mother-child dyads of low socioeconomic status (SES) and six of middle SES were observed at play. Few group differences were found, with the majority of the differences involving language behaviors. The middle-SES dyads included language goals more often in their play. Middle-SES infants initiated play verbally more frequently and produced over twice as many vocalizations as their low-SES peers. In addition, middle-SES mothers used a wider variety of words when playing with their children than their low-SES counterparts. A range of play styles was found within both groups. These were categorized into three general play styles: mothers and children actively involved in play; mothers' involvement varied; and children actively engaged and mothers attentive.

Acknowledgments
This investigation was conducted as part of the requirements of a doctoral degree at The University of Iowa. The authors wish to thank E. Paul Durrenburger, Alfred Healy, Kenneth Moll, and J. Bruce Tomblin for their input regarding the design of the project and analysis of the data, as well as the faculty of the School of Audiology and Speech Pathology at The University of Memphis and Donald Rudy of Millersville University for the opportunity to use their facilities. In addition, we would like to acknowledge Tausha Sumlin for her assistance and input during data collection and Jeff Coneaux for his work during the analysis of the data. We also thank the mothers who participated in this study for investing their time in the project and for sharing their experiences as mothers of young children. Finally, we wish to thank Julie Washington, PhD, and the reviewers for their helpful suggestions on an earlier version of this manuscript.
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