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Development Neurocognition Disorders

Themes and actions

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Team webmaster : Sophie KERN, Alice Catherine ROY

Prevention of language difficulties

  Contact person
Sophie KERN

Scientific framework and objectives

This action has two purposes :

  • the creation and norming of assessment tools of the early language development in young French learning children.
  • the development and evaluation of language intervention programs.

As part of this action several projects are carried out:
  1. Adaptation and norming of parental reports for the evaluation of communication development in French children between 8 and 48 months of age.
  2. Intervention Programs: ‘Parler Bambin’ program.

1. Adaptation and norming of parental reports for the evaluation of communication development in French children between 8 and 48 months of age.

The research of the past 20 years has made important progress in our understanding of the earliest stages of language development. Most of this work shows an influence from the development of the early stages to later stages (Lieven, Tomasello, Behrens, Spears, 2003, Marchman & Bates, 1994, McGregor, Sheng & Smith, 2005, Thal, Bates, Goodman & Jahn -Samilo, 1997). It is therefore important to be able to assess early language development as early as possible. But there are still few available tools to do so and this is particularly striking for French. The objective is therefore the construction of tools to assess the communicative development in children under 4 years of age and their norming. To date, we have adapted and normed several parental questionnaires based on an American questionnaire, the MacArthur CDI (Fenson et al., 1997). These are the French Inventories of Communicative Development (IFDC) long versions: 1200 children between 8 and 30 months and short versions: 554 children at 12 months, 357 at 18 months and 385 at 24 months of age. These questionnaires are used by researchers in several national cohorts (ELFE, SEPAGES, etc ...) but also by early childhood practitioners, especially speech therapists with children with language delays or language disorders.
The adaptation and norming of two other IFDC versions are in progress: IFDCIII and two multilingual versions French / English / Lebanese Arabic and French / Tunisian Arabic. IFDC III assesses lexical production, grammar, language use and narrative construction in monolingual French-speaking children from 30 to 48 months of age. This study started in 2017 through a funding by the Ministry of National Education. The bilingual tools are created in collaboration with Lebanese colleagues as part of the DEVLANGLI project (CEDRE financial support).

2. Intervention Programs: ‘Parler Bambin’ program.

An important body of current work spreads the idea of the need for early childhood language development assessment as well as of the need for linguistic early support to prevent future difficulties or at least reduce inequalities between children. .At the international level, there are several early prevention programs aimed at contributing to prevent social inequalities and the educational failure of children from disadvantaged families. Their interventions consist in training clinicians, educators or parents in the elicitation of communicative and language behaviors in children with language difficulties. A meta-analysis of the effect of indirect interventions (Roberts & Kaiser, 2011) on language development in 18- to 60-month-old children from language-impaired middle classes showed a positive effect on most of the measured domains (production and understanding of vocabulary and morphosyntax). Since 2015, we have been participating in the national project Parler Bambin, laureate of the presidential initiative ‘La France s’engage’. The goal is to disseminate and evaluate on a large scale (almost 100 nursery schoolds) the effect of the ‘Parler Bambin’ program (initiated between 2006 and 2009 by Michel Zorman in Grenoble) whose objective was to improve the language skills of children in day-care centers. ‘Parler Bambin’ relies mainly on a training offered to the nursery staff. The aim of the national scientific evaluation is to measure the benefits of the program on both the professional practices and on children and parents' attitudes and behaviors towards language.

  Financial support
  • Direction Générale de l'Enseignement Scolaire
    Lexical and grammatical development in children between 30 and 48 months old
    Ministère de l'Education Nationale
    Multilingual Language Development in Children in Lebanon: Adaptation of MBCDI as Evaluation Tool (DEVLANGLI)
    Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Liban
  • La France s'engage - Initiative présidentielle
    Evaluation and dissemination of Parler Bambin
    Fondation la France s'engage

  • Kern, S., Gayraud, G., 2010, "Inventaire Français du Développement Communicatif (IFDC)", Grenoble, La Cigale, ISBN 978-2-912457-91-2
  • Kern, S., Langue, J., Zesiger, P., Bovet, F., 2010, "Adaptations françaises des versions courtes des inventaires du développement communicatif de MacArthur-Bates", ANAE, 22:107-108
  • Zorman, M., Duyme, M., Kern, S., Le Normand, M.T., Lequette, C., Pouget, G., 2011, ""Parler bambin" un programme de prévention du développement précoce du langage", A.N.A.E, 112-113:Mai-Juin, pp. 238-245

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