Language Acquisition With Limited Input: Romanian Institution and Foster Care

Windsor, Jennifer; Glaze, Leslie E.; Koga, Sebastian F.
October 2007
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Oct2007, Vol. 50 Issue 5, p1365
Academic Journal
Purpose: To provide the first detailed information about native language abilities of children who are or had been institutionalized. Method: The language of ten 30-month-old children raised in Romanian orphanages was compared with that of 30 chronological-age-matched peers: 10 children who had moved recently from orphanages to foster care, 10 children in foster families for at least 1 year, and 10 children raised in their biological families. Ten language measures were obtained from communication during play and from parent/caregiver report. Results: Children who were institutionalized and children in foster care for a brief time showed substantial language delays, with some of these children not yet producing intelligible words. Children in foster care for at least 1 year approximated the expressive output and receptive language of children who had never been institutionalized; however, they showed lower expressive grammatical abilities. Within the group of children who were institutionalized, the presence of a preferred caregiver and a measure of development, greater height, were associated with greater language output. Although children in orphanages produced fewer complex forms than children in biological families, there were no systematic qualitative differences in language structure across groups. Conclusion: Foster care facilitated language growth after substantial language delays associated with institutionalization.


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