account arrow-down-linearrow-down-small arrow-downarrow-download arrow-left-small arrow-leftarrow-link arrow-rightarrow-upaudio-less-volume audio-not-playing audio-plus-volume audio awarded books calendar close-modal closedate delete document education emailevent Facebookhamburger impact instagramjustice linkedin location-outline location opinion page phonepinterestplay pluspost preview project reports search-bigsearch-old search share star-full star-open startime twitterwelfare youtube zoom-in zoom-out

Does promoting parents’ contingent talk benefit language development?

Researchers: Dr Danielle Matthews | Dr Jane Herbert

Project overview


Children from disadvantaged families tend to have limited language skills compared to their advantaged peers when they start school. This restricts their access to education and can affect their social well-being. While many factors contribute to language ability, one type of parental communication, contingent talk, has emerged as especially important.

Contingent talk is a style of communication where the parent talks about objects in the infant’s current focus of attention. Infants whose parents frequently use contingent talk go on to have much larger vocabularies as toddlers. Recent research has found that disadvantaged mothers engage in less contingent talk with their infants even though they spend more time in other types of positive interaction. This suggests that increasing parental contingent talk might promote language development, particularly for children at risk due to social disadvantage.

However, before recommending an intervention, we need to establish whether contingent talk is a correlate or a cause of better language outcomes, and whether it is possible to intervene to promote language growth.

This project aims to address these questions by conducting a properly controlled intervention study. The researchers will compare the effects of an intervention to promote contingent talk against a control; they will also measure parent contingent talk and child communication both before and after the intervention. This will allow them to study how the intervention works and whether it works differently for advantaged and disadvantaged families.

Team


  • Dr Danielle Matthews
    University of Sheffield
  • Dr Jane Herbert
    University of Sheffield

  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

Explore our projects

New

Education | 2020 - 2022

Competitive effects of free schools on student outcomes in neighbouring schools

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

Comparisons of cognitive skills and educational attainment across the UK

View project
New

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2020

Measuring the disadvantage attainment gap in 16-19 education

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

Teacher supply, shortages and working conditions in England and Wales

View project
Teenage-pupil-wearing-woolly-hat-writes-on-whiteboard-The-influence-of-headteachers-on-their-schools-PROJ
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

The influence of headteachers on their schools

View project
Two young girls being taught fractions and decimals, learning from a school workbook together
New

Education | 2020 - 2021

Teaching fractions and decimals to children aged 3 to 11

View project
Two teenage male pupils study a science lesson as part of their post-16 options
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2021

Post-16 pathways: the role of peers, family background and expectations

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2021

Exploring the impact of curriculum policy on choice, attainment and destinations

View project
man reading picture book to baby
New

Education | 2019 - 2022

Do infants learn new words from educational picture books?

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2022

The SWAN game-based approach to learning foundational number language

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2020

Education priorities in a forthcoming general election

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2021

Family Nurse Partnership: what works in England and Germany

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

Comparisons of cognitive skills and educational attainment across the UK

View project
Two young girls being taught fractions and decimals, learning from a school workbook together
New

Education | 2020 - 2021

Teaching fractions and decimals to children aged 3 to 11

View project
Teenage-pupil-wearing-woolly-hat-writes-on-whiteboard-The-influence-of-headteachers-on-their-schools-PROJ
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

The influence of headteachers on their schools

View project
Young-child-blurred-in-background-plays-with-abacus-in-foreground-Early-years-employment-pathways-PROJ
New

Education | 2019 - 2020

A systematic review of early years degrees and employment pathways

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

Teacher supply, shortages and working conditions in England and Wales

View project
man reading picture book to baby
New

Education | 2019 - 2022

Do infants learn new words from educational picture books?

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

Competitive effects of free schools on student outcomes in neighbouring schools

View project
New

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2020

Measuring the disadvantage attainment gap in 16-19 education

View project
Two teenage male pupils study a science lesson as part of their post-16 options
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2021

Post-16 pathways: the role of peers, family background and expectations

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2020

Education priorities in a forthcoming general election

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2021

‘Intractable’ schools: can an Ofsted judgment prevent sustainable improvement?

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2022

The SWAN game-based approach to learning foundational number language

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

Comparisons of cognitive skills and educational attainment across the UK

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

Competitive effects of free schools on student outcomes in neighbouring schools

View project
Two young girls being taught fractions and decimals, learning from a school workbook together
New

Education | 2020 - 2021

Teaching fractions and decimals to children aged 3 to 11

View project
New

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2020

Measuring the disadvantage attainment gap in 16-19 education

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

Teacher supply, shortages and working conditions in England and Wales

View project
Teenage-pupil-wearing-woolly-hat-writes-on-whiteboard-The-influence-of-headteachers-on-their-schools-PROJ
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

The influence of headteachers on their schools

View project
Two teenage male pupils study a science lesson as part of their post-16 options
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2021

Post-16 pathways: the role of peers, family background and expectations

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2022

The SWAN game-based approach to learning foundational number language

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2020

Education priorities in a forthcoming general election

View project
man reading picture book to baby
New

Education | 2019 - 2022

Do infants learn new words from educational picture books?

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2021

Exploring the impact of curriculum policy on choice, attainment and destinations

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 - 2021

Family Nurse Partnership: what works in England and Germany

View project
Maths resit students taking exam
Reported

Education | 2019 - 2020

A new mathematics GCSE curriculum for post-16 resit students

View project
Reported

Education | 2018 - 2018

GCSE and A-level results day project

View project
Reported

Education | 2018 - 2019

Developing a sustainable intervention for disadvantaged children

View project
Reported

Education | 2017 - 2018

Growing up digital

View project
Reported

Education | Welfare | 2017 - 2019

Undermatch in higher education: prevalence, drivers and outcomes

View project
Reported

Education | 2017 - 2018

The effect of retention and turnover on the teaching workforce

View project
Reported

Education | 2016 - 2019

A systematic review of the impact of parent-child reading

View project
Reported

Education | 2016 - 2017

School choice and equality of opportunity

View project
Reported

Education | 2016 - 2019

A follow up survey of break and lunch times in schools

View project
Reported

Education | 2016 - 2018

Modern Foreign Languages, phonics and reading strategies

View project
Reported

Education | 2016 - 2019

Cognitive and educational foundations of preschool mathematics

View project
Reported

Education | 2016 - 2018

The importance of parental beliefs in parental investment decisions

View project
Search projects

We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

Profile