Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Katie Callahan-Myrick


Young children's early language development is strongly related to their school performance, and slow language growth may predict later academic problems. The link between the language quality and amount of speech that children hear and their language development is well documented; however, the factors that impact variability in linguistic input are not well understood. The purpose of this quantitative study was to assess the association between childcare settings and childcare provider education level and toddlers' language environment. The study sample consisted of 29 Bulgarian children. The study used a new technology called Language Environment Analysis, which is the preferred method to assess children's language environment. Vygotsky's theory guided this effort to understand the impact of child caregiver settings and caregiver educational background on the child language environment. Data analysis involved descriptive statistics, percentage agreement, analysis of covariance, and linear logistic regressions. Results showed a significant correlation between the childcare setting and the mean number of adult words spoken around the child, child vocalizations, and conversation turns. However, the educational level of the childcare providers did not have a significant effect on the adult words pronounced by the childcare providers, the number of child vocalizations, or conversational turns. Positive social change may result from improvements in caregivers' practices aimed to advance adult-child daily interaction. Future studies could provide important information to policy makers to improve childcare practices to enhance caregivers' information concerning factors that could greatly influence language and overall child development in countries outside the United States.

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