Most studies have soused on White middle-class parents and their children and did not include other ethnicities and their pattern Of lexical development. Researchers contend that the effect of the home and childrearing environments of African American families on the development of children’s early language skills may be different from White families.
The MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory (CDC) is a parent report instrument designed to asses young children’s vocabulary and grammatical development.A shortened erosion of this instrument was used in this study with 87 participants, 47 females and 40 males. The test consisted of expressive language, irregular nouns and verbs, and maximum sentence length (utterance) which took into consideration the use of African American Vernacular and the sentence length was measured in words rather than morphemes.
Other assessments included the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales and the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment.All of the tests were administered by three White researchers. Through the data analysis, children form more responsive and stimulating family environments were more likely to have higher vocabulary scores overall and display a greater increase of vocabulary form 18-30 months of age. The gender of the child was also significantly related to vocabulary scores, with girls’ scores significantly higher than boys. Children from more responsive and stimulating homes used more irregular verb forms overall and show a greater increase over time.Higher maternal education was related to faster acquisition of irregular nouns and verbs between 15 and 30 months.
Children from more responsive and stimulating home environments had larger vocabularies, more irregular noun and verb use, and longer utterances. This finding provided further evidence that early language development in a primarily low income African American sample is linked to responsiveness and stimulation that the child receives.