Early lexicon. Associations to later language skills and screening

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, Saalasti hall, Zoom link: https://oulu.zoom.us/j/64693510612

Topic of the dissertation

Early lexicon. Associations to later language skills and screening

Doctoral candidate

Master of Arts Suvi-Maria Vehkavuori

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Humanities, Research Unit of Logopedics

Subject of study

Logopedics

Opponent

Professor Marja-Leena Laakso, University of Jyväskylä

Custos

Associate Professor Suvi Stolt, University of Helsinki

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Associations between early lexical and later language skills and screening of early lexical skills

More information is needed on the role of early receptive and expressive lexical development regarding later language skills. Especially the associations with specific, different language domains that early receptive and expressive lexical development may be associated with is unclear. In addition, more information is needed on early screening for children at risk for language difficulties.

The main aims of this doctoral dissertation were to 1) gain an understanding of the possible longitudinal associations between early lexical skills and later language skills at age 3;6 (years;months) as well as language and pre-literacy skills at 5;0, and 2) compare the abilities of two Finnish screening methods in identifying children with weak language skills at 2;0.

The participants were 82 typically developing, monolingual Finnish children. Their lexical skills were assessed using a screening method at 1;0, 1;3, 1;6, and 2;0. Pre-linguistic communicational, symbolic and language skills were assessed using another screening method at 2;0. General receptive and expressive language skills were assessed at 2;0 using a formal language test. Later lexical, phonological, morphological as well as general receptive and expressive language skills were measured at 3;6. Lexical, phonological, morphological, and pre-literacy skills were measured at 5;0. Both early receptive and expressive lexical skills were broadly and relatively evenly associated with language skills at 3;6 and language and pre-literacy skills at 5;0. Early receptive and expressive lexical skills explained the later language and pre-literacy skills to some extent.

The two screening methods accurately identified children with typical language skills based on a formal language test at 2;0. With the simultaneous usage of the two screening methods, 67% of children with weak language skills were identified. Early receptive and expressive lexical skills form a foundation for later language skills. Weak early receptive and/or expressive lexical skills are risk factors for weak later language skills. The assessment of both early receptive and expressive lexical skills is needed to gain a thorough understanding of early lexical skills in clinical work.
Last updated: 29.9.2021