08:08am Thursday 17 October 2019

Less talk from parents can encourage more speech from children

Student research associate Louise Davey was on a placement at the University of Sydney, Australia, working with four and five-year-olds attending pre-schools, and their parents.

She taught the parents of children with language difficulties to use simple strategies to develop their child’s language skills.

The strategies were used while reading books and during everyday conversations and included: pausing to allow the child an opportunity to talk about a topic of interest to them; asking open-ended questions; and encouraging the child to talk more on their chosen topics.

Louise, who was working under the supervision of Dr Susan Colmar, a lecturer in the Faculty of Education & Social Work at the University, said:

“For me, the most rewarding part of my involvement in the research was observing that just teaching parents a simple intervention to use when looking at books with their children could produce significant changes in terms of children’s language, and as such really act to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities available to such children.”

Research shows how well we learn language has major implications for our progress in school and our life chances. According to Dr Colmar, an estimated 10 per cent of children under six experience serious language delays and difficulties.


For further information please contact Katharine Barker in the University of Bath Press Office on +44 (0)1225 386 319 or +44 (0)7966 341 431 or email press@bath.ac.uk.

The University of Bath is one of the UK’s leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. Bath is ranked in the UK top ten of universities in both the Guardian University Guide and the Complete University Guide published by The Independent. The University values working collaboratively with others and has a global network of contacts in business, the professions, the public sector, and the voluntary sector. It also benefits from strong links with the local community.

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