The Impact of Dialect Density on the Growth of Language and Reading in African American Children Purpose The goal of the current study was to examine the impact of dialect density on the growth of oral language and reading skills in a sample of African American English (AAE)-speaking children reared in urban communities. Method Eight hundred thirty-five African American children in first through fifth ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 05, 2018
The Impact of Dialect Density on the Growth of Language and Reading in African American Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Julie A. Washington
    Georgia State University, Atlanta
  • Lee Branum-Martin
    Georgia State University, Atlanta
  • Congying Sun
    Georgia State University, Atlanta
  • Ryan Lee-James
    Adelphi University, Garden City, New York
  • 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 Julie A. Washington: jwashington@gsu.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray
    Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray×
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Publisher Note: This article is part of the Clinical Forum: Toward Accurate Identification of Developmental Language Disorder Within Linguistically Diverse Schools.
    Publisher Note: This article is part of the Clinical Forum: Toward Accurate Identification of Developmental Language Disorder Within Linguistically Diverse Schools.×
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Clinical Forum: Toward Accurate Identification of Developmental Language Disorder Within Linguistically Diverse Schools / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 05, 2018
The Impact of Dialect Density on the Growth of Language and Reading in African American Children
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2018, Vol. 49, 232-247. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0063
History: Received June 21, 2017 , Revised October 18, 2017 , Accepted November 30, 2017
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2018, Vol. 49, 232-247. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0063
History: Received June 21, 2017; Revised October 18, 2017; Accepted November 30, 2017
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose The goal of the current study was to examine the impact of dialect density on the growth of oral language and reading skills in a sample of African American English (AAE)-speaking children reared in urban communities.

Method Eight hundred thirty-five African American children in first through fifth grades participated. Using an accelerated cohort design, univariate and bivariate growth models were employed to examine dialect density, oral language and reading, and the relationships between these variables.

Results For the univariate models, results indicated that (a) dialect density decreased over time by approximately 5% per year beyond first grade, (b) language skills improved approximately 0.5 SD per year, and (c) reading comprehension increased significantly from first to second grade and slowed 23% per year in second through fifth grades. Results from the bivariate models revealed that (a) dialect density and language ability are negatively associated, although dialect density did not affect change in language over time, and (b) higher dialect density is related to slower growth in reading.

Conclusions Findings from this investigation provide converging evidence for accounts in the extant literature particularly supporting a negative relationship between dialect density and oral language and between dialect density and reading while also contributing novel longitudinal evidence that suggests that changes in dialect use over time may be driven by oral language skills and that reading and dialect have a reciprocal relationship.

Acknowledgments
Research reported in this article was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under 1R24HDO75454-01, awarded to Julia A. Washington, Principal Investigator.
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