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November 2021

Factors affecting language development in West African children: a pilot study using a qualitative methodology

Journal/Book: Child Care Health Develop. 2000; 26: P O Box 88, Osney Mead, Oxford Ox2 0NE, Oxon, England. Blackwell Science Ltd. 289-308.

Abstract: Data on referral patterns to pre-school facilities for speech- and language-delayed children suggest that West African children are over represented relative to other ethnic/language groups. This study was set up as a pilot to explore some of the issues which distinguish this group of children and their families. A qualitative methodology was adopted to access the views of a small group of parents (nine) and professionals with direct experience of these services (three). Between them the parents had a total of 11 children who had received speech and language therapy services. Extensive in-depth interviews were transcribed and coded. The families are predominantly well educated with high expectations for their children. Their beliefs about child development in general and language development often differed from those of the professionals interviewed. For example, parents saw little direct link between very early language stimulation and subsequent school performance. West African parents also perceived that they had different (higher) expectations of behaviour than other families. It was generally accepted by all parties that the West African community experiences a high degree of stress resulting from a combination of interacting factors, namely pressures relating to employment, to immigration status, to matters financial and to expectations from family back in their own country. It is unclear exactly how these impact on the development of the child but there is an awareness that there may be a negative effect of such stress and that children's speech and language development may be one aspect of development that is affected. As a result of this pilot study a number of mechanisms relating to the relationship between environment factors and language development are proposed and suggestions are made regarding service provision for this community.

Note: Article Law J, City Univ London, Dept Language & Commun Sci, Northampton Sq, London EC1V 0HB, ENGLAND

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