Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Effect of Language Program on Behavior

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Effect of Language Program on Behavior

Article excerpt

Abstract

A quasi-experimental design was used to compare the social adjustment (i.e., behavior) of 21 children who received the Language for Learning program with those of 24 children enrolled in a comparison school. Results indicated that instruction with the Language for Learning program produced both statistically and educationally significant effects on the social adjustment of children.

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The chief instrument of integration and order in human mental life is language (Vygotsky, 1962). Its importance to success in school cannot be overstated. Children with language deficits face an increased likelihood of negative long-term outcomes including depressed academic achievement, grade retention, reading disabilities, and emotional and behavioral disorders (Beitchman, Cantwell, Forness, Kavale, & Kauffman, 1998; Benner, Nelson, & Epstein, 2002; Catts, 1993). Language deficits have a devastating effect on the peer and interpersonal relationships of children (Baker & Cantwell, 1985; Benner, Nelson, & Epstein, 2002; Gallagher, 1999). Aggressive children, for example, may use less verbal communication and more direct physical actions to solve interpersonal problems due to limited language skills (Gallagher, 1999). Such language deficits may serve as catalysts for ongoing problematic interactions between caregivers, peers, and teachers and children who exhibit problem behaviors (Benner, Nelson, & Epstein, 2002).

The Language for Learning program is designed to teach young children the language skills and concepts necessary for the understanding of oral and written language. Two studies to date (Benner et al., 2002; Waldron-Soler et al., 2002) have investigated the effects of Language for Learning on the language and/or social adjustment of children. Benner and colleagues (2002) examined the effects on receptive language skills of kindergarten children in separate schools. A pre-post quasi-experimental design (Martella, Nelson, & Marchand-Martella, 1999) was used, with the experimental condition (N=21) receiving the complete Language for Learning program over the course of a school year, and the comparison condition (N=24) receiving a typical instructional program (i.e., language development activities designed by the teacher). Children in the experimental condition demonstrated significantly higher receptive language scores than those in the comparison condition.

Waldron-Soler and colleagues (2002) examined the effects on the language and social skills of preschoolers with and without disabilities. A nonequivalent control group design (Martella, et al., 1999) was used, with the experimental condition (N=16) receiving the Language for Learning curriculum for 15 weeks, and the comparison condition (N=20) receiving a typical preschool program devoid of explicit language instruction. Children in the experimental condition outperformed those in the comparison condition on measures of receptive language and social skills. Researchers have found that the Language for Learning program has been effective in improving the receptive language skills of preschoolers and kindergarten children (Benner et al., 2002; Waldron-Soler et al., 2002). Furthermore, researchers of one study (Waldron-Soler et al., 2002) have demonstrated that the Language for Learning program can impact the social adjustment of preschool children between the ages of 3 and 5 years. However, it remains unclear whether the Language for Learning program can improve the social adjustment of kindergarten children. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of the Language for Learning program on the social adjustment of a general sample of kindergarten children.

Method

Participants Forty-five kindergarten children (27 males and 18 females) enrolled in two elementary schools (i.e., participating and comparison schools) in a small rural Midwest town participated in this study. …

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