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A study was conducted in 32 families in Chicago, with children ranging from 18 months to 5 years, to examine the role of parents in their young children's language acquisition. Specifically investigated were parents' attitudes on language acquisition, opportunities used to prompt their youngsters to say a new word/utterance, and the utterances learned. Four instruments were used to collect data: a parents' questionnaire which provided background information on attitudes about language and languages used in the family; a word acquisition chart which documented prompts, contexts, words/utterances heard and learned in their complexity; audio-recording which provided parent-child linguistic interaction and complexity in a natural setting; and parent interviews which helped the researcher clarify observations as a way of cross-checking the study's internal validity. Findings suggest that parents used various strategies and prompts to help their children in acquiring new words and structures. A multiple correlation analysis indicated that: parent attitudes and beliefs were related to their children's acquisition of language; and hearing "a lot of language" was positively related to producing "a lot of language." All the parents indicated that school had a strong influence on their children's acquisition of new English words, but family/home played a significant role in nurturing language acquisition and development in general.


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