Applied Psycholinguistics

Articles

Size matters: Early vocabulary as a predictor of language and literacy competence

JOANNE LEEa1 c1

a1 Wilfrid Laurier University

ABSTRACT

This paper investigated the predictive ability of expressive vocabulary size and lexical composition at age 2 on later language and literacy skills from ages 3 through 11. Multivariate analysis of covariance was performed to compare 16 language and literacy outcomes between children with large expressive vocabulary size at 24 months (N = 1,073) and those with smaller expressive vocabulary size. Comparisons between large and small verb size groups as a measure of lexical composition were also conducted. Our findings indicate that, after controlling for gender, birth order, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, total vocabulary size at age 2 can significantly predict subsequent language and literacy achievement up to fifth grade. Moreover, vocabulary size is a better predictor of later language ability than lexical composition.

(Received October 25 2008)

(Accepted September 19 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Joanne Lee, Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, Canada. E-mail: jlee@wlu.ca

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