What is it about?

We recorded the dinnertime conversations of 37 preschoolers with hearing loss who used listening and spoken language and examined the conversation techniques used by parents and other adult caregivers. We also measured the children's receptive vocabulary and understanding of basic concepts.

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Why is it important?

Parents’ use of conversation techniques varied widely, with closed-ended elicitation and directives used most frequently during dinner. We found that parents' use of explicit vocabulary instruction was correlated with their children's general receptive vocabulary and basic-concepts skills. Our thematic analysis of the conversations revealed common themes, including concrete topics and sibling speakers. In addition, parents who used many techniques often introduced abstract conversation topics. In contrast, electronic media was present in all conversations with few techniques.


Parents of preschoolers with HL may benefit from specific coaching to elicit language and introduce new vocabulary during home routines, like mealtimes. Professionals should also explore whether parents prefer to use other times of the day (such as shared reading or playtime) as language-learning opportunities. Family-centered intervention beyond early intervention may help parents develop their children's vocabulary in culturally appropriate ways.

Elaine Smolen
Teachers College, Columbia University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Effects of Parents' Mealtime Conversation Techniques for Preschool Children With Hearing Loss Who Use Listening and Spoken Language, Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, March 2021, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),
DOI: 10.1044/2020_jslhr-20-00420.
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