Evidence briefings

How can parents influence their children's language development?

Prof Julian Pine and Prof Caroline Rowland, University of Liverpool

We are often asked to recommend good quality research papers on the role that parents have in their children's language development. In this evidence briefing, we've attempted to address this by collating some of the most influential research in this area.

How does shared book-reading help boost child language development in the early years?

Prof Caroline Rowland, Dr Claire Noble, Dr Jamie Lingwood and Anna Coates, University of Liverpool
This evidence briefing summarises the evidence for the role of shared book-reading in children’s language development in the early years (0-5 years). It covers, quite broadly, book-reading situations in which an adult and child (or group of children) sit down to share books together.

Myths and Misconceptions about language development in multilingual children 

Prof Ludovica Serratrice, University of Reading
According to the 2011 Census, 39% of UK primary school children speak English as an additional language. It is therefore crucial that early years professionals are able to give honest, accurate advice to parents and other practitioners about what we might expect of these children in terms of their language development. This evidence briefing details and debunks a number of misconceptions about multilingual language development.

The impact of baby sign on infants and their parents: A short evidence briefing for parents, early years practitioners and policy makers 

Dr Elizabeth Kirk, University of York
Baby sign teaches parents to use key word signs or gestures with their preverbal infant and is claimed to improve a range of outcomes for both the infant and their parents, including accelerated language acquisition, increased IQ and enhanced bonding. Researchers have traced the source of the evidence for statements made across 33 baby sign websites and found that more than 90% were based on opinion articles, not on published peer-reviewed scientific articles. This evidence briefing provides an objective account of the available evidence that has evaluated the impact of baby sign on infants and their parents.

Social disadvantage and language delay

Centre of Research Excellence in Child Language
Language delay during the early years can have long-term consequences on a child’s education, health and well-being. Social disadvantage exacerbates the problem. In this policy briefing, our colleagues at the Centre of Research Excellence in Child Language explain why social disadvantage causes problems, and describe what practitioners and policy makers can do to help.