Predicting communicative competence at 2 and 3 years from pragmatic skills at 10 months

Int J Lang Commun Disord. Apr-Jun 1998;33(2):127-48. doi: 10.1080/136828298247794.


It is proposed that children play an important part in determining the kinds of linguistic experience they receive, influencing their language environment by means of early pragmatic communication. These early behaviours may also be predictive of later communicative competence. As a preliminary investigation into the wider implications of children's potential influence over their linguistic environment, a study was undertaken which looked at infant pragmatic signalling systems and joint engagement skills, to establish whether these early interactive behaviours might be related to children's subsequent communicative development. During the course of the study, the frequency and distribution of early pragmatic behaviours in a random sample of 145 10-month-old infants were investigated, and their subsequent language development followed up at ages 24 and 36 months. The study examined (a) the predictive validity of specific pragmatic behaviours at age 10 months for language development at age 24 months and (b) the specificity and stability of profiles of communicative disability at 2 and 3 years. A subset of behaviours was identified which would have correctly predicted 82.4% of children found to have communicative difficulties at 24 months and 85.4% of those who did not. Predictive language profiles drawn up at age 24 months were substantially confirmed when the children were reassessed at age 36 months. It is proposed that specific early communicative behaviours may be predictive of a child's subsequent linguistic development. Additionally, 2-year-old children will be exhibiting certain patterns of language acquisition which may be significant for subsequent linguistic development. Implications for intervention are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Behavior
  • Child Language*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development Disorders / etiology*
  • Language Development Disorders / psychology
  • Language Development*
  • Language Tests
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests