We examined the language practices of five mother-child dyads during a structured play activity, particularly in relation to maternal question use. The study includes second-generation, 4-year-old children of Mexican immigrants who demonstrate either high vocabulary levels in English and Spanish or low levels of vocabulary in both languages. Examination of field notes, videotapes, and transcriptions yielded differences in maternal use of perceptual and conceptual questions between children with high and low vocabulary. Children with higher English/Spanish vocabulary profiles experience greater variety in the form of perceptual questions that produce abstract child responses, are more likely to experience clarification or explanation questions, and have greater opportunity to lead during extended exchanges.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Spencer Foundation, entitled “The Literacy and Language Practices of Latino Families in the New Latino Diaspora: An Ethnographic Exploration.”
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- English language learners
- conceptual questions
- maternal question use
- mother-child play
- perceptual questions