Soutenance de thèse

Investigating causal factors of early linguistic competency - a daycare intervention study

Cécile Crimon
Informations pratiques
29 mai 2024

ENS, room L382/384, 24 rue Lhomond, 75005 Paris



While we now have a fairly good picture of the developmental steps involved in children’s language acquisition, we still lack a detailed understanding of the elements that influence this process and of the ways we can best support it. This last point becomes all the more important when considering the extensive variability that has been observed in young children’s language development, both in terms of speed and outcomes. The variable access to a high-quality learning environment has been pointed out as one major factor influencing their language development, and leading to educational inequalities. The goal of this research project was twofold: first, to gain a better understanding of the ways children’s environment influences their language learning process; and second, to devise new ways to support it. This implies having tools to precisely measure this language acquisition process, and interventions to practically foster children’s learning, both actionable at a population-wide level. While previous early intervention studies have mainly focused on ways to enrich children’s sociolinguistic home environment, research has shown the need for a higher quality of external childcare. And with the growing number of households resorting to non-family child care solutions, acting on its quality could prove to be a sustainable alternative to reach young children from all backgrounds at scale. I will present our efforts to develop tools to assess French toddlers’ language development, and a new Randomized Control Trial language intervention, aiming to enrich daycare centers’ learning environment through a training on language development evidence-based good practices for daycare educators. We will discuss our intervention results in light of the broader early childhood education system and formulate recommendations for stakeholders and policy makers striving to provide universal high-quality care for all children.