Maternal education and measures of early speech and language

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 1999 Dec;42(6):1432-43. doi: 10.1044/jslhr.4206.1432.


The present study was designed to determine whether 4 measures of children's spontaneous speech and language differed according to the educational level of the children's mothers. Spontaneous language samples from 240 three-year-old children were analyzed to determine mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLUm), number of different words (NDW), total number of words (TNW), and percentage of consonants correct (PCC). A norm-referenced, knowledge-dependent measure of language comprehension, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PPVT-R), was also included for purposes of comparison with the spontaneous measures. Three levels of maternal education were compared: less than high school graduate, high school graduate, and college graduate. Trend analyses showed statistically significant linear trends across educational levels for MLUm, NDW, TNW, and PPVT-R; the trend for PCC was not significant. The relationship of maternal education and other sociodemographic variables to measures of children's language should be examined before using such measures to identify children with language disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child Language*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rural Population
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Urban Population