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Children’s language skills influenced by peers and tutors

“Language inputs from classmates can stimulate children’s language development as well"
15th May 2009: You have just migrated to the UK and want your little one to have better communication, and academic skills. Just remember their language skills are influenced not just by you, but also their peers, as well as their tutors. Researchers have discovered the more articulate the class, the more eloquent the individual pupils are. So, choose the school with caution.

Their findings apparently suggest teachers should encourage children to chat and play so they pick up vocabulary and grammar from each other.

The research team believes this could explain why education is becoming more polarized, with the good schools turning even better; and the worst schools sinking ever lower.

"There are a lot of studies that show children’s language development is affected by the quantity and quality of language they hear from their parents and preschool teachers," Andrew Mashburn, a senior research scientist at the University of Virginia and the study’s lead author, said. "Results from this study indicate that language inputs from classmates can stimulate children’s language development as well."

The findings apparently are in sync with British research carried out by the Sutton Trust, which suggests bright pupils in comprehensives are "dragged down by poor classmates". The similarities make the report so relevant in the UK. 

The team of American researchers, who published their findings in the journal Child Development, studied more than 1,800 four-year-olds in over 450 nursery schools.

They tested their language skills before entering the schools, and then afterwards to see how they had developed. The assessments included asking pupils to identify objects from a selection of pictures and also asking them to complete sentences.

Scientists found those with more eloquent and lucid peers improved more than those with lesser language skills.
They found the effect worked for both "receptive language" – the ability to understand – and "expressive language" — the ability to speak.

Contrary to the earlier belief, the effect was most pronounced on high achievers as they appeared to be in a position to soak up more knowledge of their peers. Lower achievers were more withdrawn and, therefore, less likely to learn from friends.

Stay at home, Africans advised

Raising a toast to water