Culture and Early Language Development: Implications for Assessment and Intervention Open Access
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The purpose of this qualitative study--"Culture and Early Language Development: Implications for Assessment and Intervention"--was to explore and describe the perceptions and beliefs of Salvadoran mothers of low socioeconomic status regarding the language development of their young children in order to identify cultural variations in perceptions and beliefs about children's early language development between Salvadoran mothers of low socioeconomic status from what has been the typical normative group (i.e., Mexican-American). How these perceptions and beliefs influence the verbal interactions between mother and child were also explored, illustrating how cultural context impacts vocabulary development during early language acquisition. This study used a qualitative, descriptive-exploratory methodology, founded on case study methodology, in order to facilitate an in-depth critical analysis of the effect of the perceptions and beliefs of Salvadoran mothers of low socioeconomic status on their children's early language development. Participants were selected using a combination of purposeful and snowball sampling based on pre-identified selection criteria. Data were collected through observations of mother-child verbal interactions and interviews with participants. A reflexivity journal was kept to record notes during the interviews and observations. Data analysis consisted of coding responses, member checking with participants, and identification and analysis of themes using a constant comparative method in both single case and cross-case analysis.Data from the study indicate that mothers' perceptions and parameters of normality regarding their child's early language development differ from the parameters used by early intervention professionals. In addition, the data suggests cultural differences in parent-child interaction patterns influence the child's vocabulary development. Based on the data, it can be concluded that while the mothers perceived interactions with their children as being influenced by sociodemographic variables such as economic status and education level, the presence of elements such as misconceptions regarding second language acquisition, acculturation, and cultural beliefs and values also played a significant role in the mothers' perception of their children's early language development. Recommendations for additional research and practice are included following the discussion of data.