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Language delay in early childhood: A gender perspective

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posted on 2022-08-23, 01:59 authored by Gordon L Crosswell

Language and literacy, development and acquisition, has fascinated linguists, psychologists and sociologists for decades. The debate on whether thought precedes language, or language precedes thought, continues with the same fervour as the nature/nurture discussions for the development of human intelligence. Parents, teachers and care -givers need appropriate information to provide quality support for language and literacy development in early childhood. State and Commonwealth monies and projects are heavily focussed on improving student literacy outcomes.

The issues of language development and the serious short and long term consequences of language delay on the progression of literacy skills, attitudinal development and interpersonal relationships have provided the impetus for this study into the complexity of language delay in early childhood from a gender perspective. This incorporated the consequential impact for teaching and learning. Most government and non -government providers of educational services have policies to address gender issues. Accommodating that differences between and within genders are real and unique to the individual child, added to the complexity the topic.

This project researched language and literacy development in a study involving five Central Queensland State Schools. Students' attitudes to school (N=973), teachers' perceptions of students' attitudes (N=56), and staff opinions on the human relationships in each respective school were surveyed (N=60). Statistics were collected from ten learning support teachers in the Rockhampton area supporting 726 students who were referred as having some degree of learning difficulty. Screening and retesting of 39 early childhood students across the five schools, using the Bankson Language Test -2, was implemented to ascertain improvements in language acquisition. Teaching staff in the five schools, from Pre School to Year 3, were surveyed as to their opinions on language delay and language learning environments (N=23).

As evidenced throughout this project, language delay can be attributed to a number of genetic and environmental influences. This study strongly advocates for increased support to assist teachers and parents in understanding and meeting the needs of language delayed children and in creating an awareness of the gender implications for emergent language learners. Intervention programs can be effectively implemented.



Central Queensland University

Place of Publication

Rockhampton, Qld

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Lewis Larking ; Peter Hallinan

Thesis Type

  • Master's by Coursework Thesis

Thesis Format

  • With publication