In this article, Kim Eckart from ScienceDaily reports on a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, regarding the use of “parentese”, defined as “grammatical speech that involves real words, elongated vowels and exaggerated tones of voice”, to enhance language acquisition skills in children. The research conducted by Naja Ferjan Ramirez and colleagues at University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) discovered that parents who received coaching in speaking parentese had a higher number of “ parent-child ‘conversational turns’”, which was strongly linked to an increase in the language skills obtained by the child when observed in the future. This new study explored the long-range outcome correlations of parents who were coached in parentese to communicate with their child and the resulting acquisition of speech by the child at 18 months of age. This was bas ed on a past study in 2018, which showed parents that were coached in parentese and babies who had parentese spoken to them had a significant increase of words produced by 14 months of age compared to babies who were not exposed to that speech technique.
Eckart reports in the introduction “if parents knew the way they speak could help the baby learn, would they alter their speech?” This suggests begging the question fallacy, such that it assumes the truth of the study’s conclusion. Perhaps a more direct means of approach in introducing the main idea of the article would further preserve the overall credibility of this news piece.
Regardless, Eckart clearly and concisely summarized the research paper, communicating the information while explaining jargon in language that is appropriate to the target audience. Furthermore, this article was well presented in an orderly fashion, allowing for an easy read with its streamlined layout. Overall, a well-written news piece that has successfully captured and effectively communicated the key points of the research study.
This article in ScienceDaily discusses recent findings that ‘parentese’ (a speaking style that uses simple grammar and exaggerated vowels to engage an infant) can enhance language development. The study of interest followed parents and their 6-month old infants; a portion of the adults were given coaching in the importance of parentese, the other portion given no training. The researchers then followed the families, monitoring the language development of the infants until they were 18 months old. It was found that the infants of parents who participated in coaching had larger vocabularies and produced real words more frequently than those of the parents that received no coaching. Eckart, the author of the article, accurately depicts the research process as well as the findings of the research.
Eckart is unbiased, concise, and consistently uses language appropriate for the target audience. In any cases that complex language was used, it is explained immediately- thereby allowing the reader to easily grasp the concepts behind the scientific research.
Although the article accurately depicts the research process and the findings, it fails to discuss any uncertainties of the research. The author expresses unjust certainty; the results of the study are based off of a parent survey as well as sets of two-day recordings from each family. These methods have innate sources of error; for example, parents filling out a survey may be biased towards the size of their child’s vocabulary. This is not to say that the results of the study are invalid, just that the author should express less certainty in the findings.
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