Toy Talk: Simple Strategies to Create Richer Grammatical Input Purpose The purpose of this initial feasibility study was to determine whether brief instruction in toy talk would change grammatical properties of adult language, specifically 3rd person lexical noun phrase (NP) subjects. Method Eighteen college students participated in the study. The use of 3rd person subjects was examined ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 01, 2014
Toy Talk: Simple Strategies to Create Richer Grammatical Input
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Pamela A. Hadley
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Kathleen M. Walsh
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Pamela A. Hadley: phadley@illinois.edu
  • Kathleen M. Walsh is now at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, IL.
    Kathleen M. Walsh is now at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, IL.×
  • Editor: Marilyn Nippold
    Editor: Marilyn Nippold×
  • Associate Editor: Sonja Pruitt-Lord
    Associate Editor: Sonja Pruitt-Lord×
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Normal Language Processing / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 01, 2014
Toy Talk: Simple Strategies to Create Richer Grammatical Input
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2014, Vol. 45, 159-172. doi:10.1044/2014_LSHSS-13-0055
History: Received July 28, 2013 , Revised January 16, 2014 , Accepted March 20, 2014
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2014, Vol. 45, 159-172. doi:10.1044/2014_LSHSS-13-0055
History: Received July 28, 2013; Revised January 16, 2014; Accepted March 20, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 7

Purpose The purpose of this initial feasibility study was to determine whether brief instruction in toy talk would change grammatical properties of adult language, specifically 3rd person lexical noun phrase (NP) subjects.

Method Eighteen college students participated in the study. The use of 3rd person subjects was examined before and after instruction on toy talk strategies (i.e., talk about the toys, give the item its name). Change in the input informativeness for tense (i.e., the proportion of verb forms marked for tense out of all verb forms) was also examined, although adults were not instructed on use of tense/agreement morphemes.

Results Following instruction, statistically significant increases with large effect sizes were observed for use of 3rd person subjects, lexical NP subjects, and input informativeness for tense (Cohen's d = 1.20, 2.08, and 0.89, respectively).

Conclusions These findings demonstrate that young adults can learn these simple strategies with relatively brief instruction, and the use of toy talk also changes the richness of tense/agreement marking in adult language input. Considerations for incorporating toy talk into existing language modeling practices and future plans for evaluating the efficacy of toy talk are discussed.

Acknowledgments
Data collection was completed as part of Kathleen Walsh's master's thesis at the University of Illinois. We thank the parents and children who served as participants for the video stimuli used in this study and the Child Language and Literacy Lab for assistance and use of their video editing equipment. We also thank Matthew Rispoli for his contribution to the psycholinguistic hypotheses tested in this study, Elizabeth Eichorst for assistance with transcript reliability, and Cynthia Johnson, Janna Oetting, and members of the Applied Psycholinguistics Lab for feedback on this project.
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