Case study for language development early child hood

Spring 2012
Guidelines for Child Language Case Study

The purpose of this assignment is to help you learn new ways of listening to and understanding child language, and to give you a chance to apply language development concepts you are learning in class. In order to complete the Child Case Study Assignment you are asked to identify a 2to 4-year-old child and gather data on the childas language development using the following methods:

I. Two 15-minute Observations
Observe the selected child using language in a naturalistic setting (at home or at school) on at least two separate occasions for at least 15 minutes at each observation. Take written notes on the social context, the activities, conversational partners, and what the child said during your observation to the degree possible. Note anything interesting or exceptional about the childas language use.

II. Recording and analysis of child language sample
Record at least 15 minutes of the childas language interaction (This should be separate from your two 15-minute observations). In order to encourage the childas production of language, you may wish to either have a conversation with the child around a particular activity (toy play, book-reading, etc), or encourage the childas parent or caregiver to do the same while you record the interaction. If you are observing a child in a preschool classroom setting, you are welcome to record the childas language in the context of his/her interaction with other children during play, etc. You just want to be sure to get a language sample that includes enough utterances to bear a fruitful analysis.

Although you will be audio-recording the interaction, I encourage you to take notes on the childas language during the recorded session as well, as some child utterances may be inaudible on the voice recording. If a childas utterance is unintelligible even when you are present with the child, you will want to note this so you are sure that the lack of intelligibility when you transcribe your tape is not simply the result of a bad tape-recording.

Transcribe your entire 15-minute sample word for word. Be true to the childas pronunciation. If there is a pause or hesitation, note that as well.

Using at least 15 child utterances, calculate the childas MLU (Mean Length of Utterance). Use the transcribed language data to enhance your understanding and analysis of the childas language skills, considering the same categories of analysis you considered during your observations (see below).

III. Parent interview

Use the interview to learn as much as possible about the social context of the childas language development and parent perceptions of the childas linguistic and communicative competencies. Remember, although you will be collecting a total of 45 minutes of child data (2 observations and 1 audio-recorded session), parents have a wealth of knowledge about their childrenas language development that we often fail to tap when we assess childrenas abilities.

As you consider the social context in which the child is using language, ask yourself, a?With whom does he/she interact and in the context of which activities or routines? What is the interactive style of the adults with whom the child communicates? How do the adults scaffold the childas language development?a?

Some suggested interview questions are included below:

1. Could you tell me about your childas typical day? Where and with whom does he/she spend his/her time? What kinds of activities does he/she do in each setting or with each of these caregivers?

2. What language is usually spoken with the child in each of these settings?
a. (If more than one language is spoken with the child, approximately what percent of their time does the child spend interacting in LANGUAGE X? LANGUAGE Y, and with whom?)

3. About how much time does your child spend each day, on average, watching television? In front of a computer screen, iPad, DS or some other electronic device?

4. Could you tell me about things you do with you child that you think may help him/her to learn to talk or develop her language? Are there particular ways you have of talking with your child, routines or activities that you see as helping to build his/her language?

5. Can you tell me about your childas language development? Where do you see his or her language development now? What kinds of things is he/she saying? What does he/she like to talk about?

6. Is there anything of particular interest or concern in your childas language development?

Analyzing your data and writing the paper:

Your analysis and the resulting paper will focus on the childas linguistic and communicative competence as you consider the following:

a) Phonological development: Does she pronounce words clearly? Are there certain sounds or sound classes the child appears to have mastered (e.g. the /r/, or the fricative sounds)? Are there sounds of sound classes that appear to cause difficulty? What about blends? Multi-syllable words? Is her speech intelligible? Are there certain circumstances under which her speech is more or less intelligible?

b) Semantic Development/Vocabulary: What kinds of words does the child use? What are some of the nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions that appear in the childas everyday language? Does the child seem to have more variety of one class of words than another (e.g. more variety of nouns than verbs)? Does the child appear to understand the words being used by her conversational partners? Does the childas speech include use of unusual or rare vocabulary words? Is there evidence of certain semantic networks in the childas language? If so, how do these networks reflect the childas life experiences?

c) Syntactic development: Is the child at the one-word stage, telegraphic stage (two-word) or forming multi-word utterances? What is the childas Mean Length of Utterance (MLU)? At what stage of language development does that place the child? Are there particular morphological/grammatical features that the child clearly has or has not mastered (e.g. use of possessives, plurals, articles, questions, negations, past tense, etc.) Or perhaps the child is already using complex sentence constructions. If so, describe these. Are there overgeneralizations in the childas use of grammar/morphology (e.g. feets, bringed). How does the child ask questions? Form negative sentence constructions?

d) Pragmatic development: Is the child quiet, talkative, etc. What are some of the basic communicative purposes or functions for which the child uses language (e.g. requesting, explaining/describing, telling personal narratives, pretending? ) Does the child engage in conversation with others, follow rules of conversational turn-taking, use expressions of politeness? What about topic-maintenance? What about the childas non-verbal communication? Is the child aware of different language registers as evident in the use of a?storybook talka?, role-playing during dramatic play, etc.

Does the child use a particular language or language variant that is linked to his or her family/ethnic identity?

Writing the Paper

When you write your report, please do the following:

1. Divide your paper into subsections

A workable outline for the paper might look as follows:

A. Introduction
i. Purpose of paper
ii. Methods of data collection
B. Child background characteristics and social context (including languages and/or language varieties spoken)
C. Childas Language abilities:
i. Phonological development
ii. Semantic development/vocabulary
iii. Syntactic development
iv. Pragmatic development
D. Discussion/Issues for special consideration

Organize your paper carefully, being sure to give yourself the opportunity to discuss the many aspects of the childas language environments and language competencies outlined in these guidelines.

2. Use the various data sources to write an in-depth description and analysis of the childas social context and actual language competencies. Do not organize yo