Rate of lexical acquisition in toddlers from Italian and immigrant low-income families: Correlates and outcomes

Starting date
September 1, 2016
Duration (months)
Human Sciences
Managers or local contacts
Lavelli Manuela
vocabulary acquisition, toddlers, low-income families, home reading practices, dual language

A large body of evidence has documented that the frequency and the quality of early language experiences predict receptive and expressive infant language skills (Hoff, 2006; Hudson et al, 2015). However, the quantity and quality of language experiences vary significantly depending on the socio-economic condition (Hart & Risley, 1995). Particularly, children from low-income families receive less language input and of lower quality than children from higher-income families, that places them at risk for language delays and subsequent learning difficulties (Fiorentino & Howe, 2004; Cabell et al., 2013). Moreover, many low-income families are also language minority families, and bilingual children showed slower rate of language growth in each language compared to monolingual children (Hoff et al. 2012). However, also in bilingual conditions the quality of early linguistic environment is likely to predict the early language development (Hoff, 2013). The present longitudinal study examine the rate of vocabulary development of low-income monolingual and bilingual children to explore the contextual predictors of the vocabulary outcomes, such as the quality of the language input of the nursery teachers and the narrative practices at home. Particularly attention will be devoted to compare the vocabulary growth trajectories of monolingual children to those of the bilingual children matched for socio-economic condition. The vocabulary skills in L1 of bilingual children will be assessed in collaboration with cultural mediators. In addition to the scientific impact, the present study has an important social impact, since the results may be useful to develop language program intervention addressed to the nursery teachers.

Project participants

Chiara Barachetti
Research Scholarship Holders
Manuela Lavelli
Research Assistants
Marinella Majorano
Associate Professor
Giuseppina Messetti
Temporary Professor

Collaboratori esterni

Rosanna Zerbato
Municipality of Verona, Educational Services (0-6) Politiche educative, scolastiche e giovanili Responsabile pedagogica Nidi e Scuole d'Infanzia
Elena Antolini
Municipality of Verona, Educational Services (0-6) Politiche educative, scolastiche e giovanili Coordinatrice pedagogica Nidi
Laura Justice
The Ohio State University, USA College of Education & Human Ecology Full professor
Jessica Logan
The Ohio State University, USA Center for Cognitive & Brain Sciences Senior Researcher
Research areas involved in the project
Psychology  (DDSP)
Psychology  (DNBM)
Title Authors Year
Vocabolario in produzione di bambini bilingui a 24 mesi: evidenze dal confronto con monolingui e tra bilingui con differenti L1 Barachetti, Chiara; Majorano, Marinella; Lavelli, Manuela 2018


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