Semantic Development and Communicative Skills in Different Social Classes

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    Lower-class school children were found to be less effective in referential communications than middle-class children. The attempt of this study was to explain this gap as a matter of linguistic development. Two hundred and six pairs of lower- and middle-class children from kindergarten, second, and sixth grades were tested in the area of referential communication, using a large variety of communication tasks. Social class and age differences were found to be significant and the interaction between these two variables was also significant. The quality of listening and speaking skills was analyzed independently and distinctive patterns of development were found in each class. The content of the messages was also analyzed and frequencies were computed for the linguistic strategies employed in each group. It is suggested that considerations of semantic development may be pertinent to an account of class differences in communicative conduct.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)275-299
    Number of pages25
    JournalDiscourse Processes
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 1 Jul 1984

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    *This study was supported by the Chief Scientist's Section of the Israeli Ministry of Education. No official endorsement of the opinions expressed should be inferred. I thank David Navon for his valuable help in various stages of this study, Yael Bouch and Ariela Bahalul for their help in collecting the data, Micha Razel, Alan Lesgold, Charles Perfetti, Richard Omanson, and Deborah McCutcheon for their helpful comments.

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Communication
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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