Vocabulary-Use Patterns in Preschool Children: Effects of Context and Time Sampling

Christine A. Marvin, David R. Beukelman, Denise Bilyeu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


This investigation examined the effects of context and time sampling on the vocabulary-use patterns of nondisabled, preschool-aged children. Two groups of children participated in the study. Comparisons were sought for the vocabulary used by each group of five children at preschool and at home when samples in the two settings were collected on the same or different days. Communication samples representing 2.5 to 3.5 hours of continuous time were tape recorded with voice-activated tape recorders while the children engaged in routine activities at home and at preschool. Two thousand-word samples from each child were analyzed for lexical diversity, frequently occurring words, and the proportion of structure and content words used in each setting. Analyses suggested that the children in each group had similar vocabulary-use patterns at home and at preschool. For the total composite sample in each setting, however, approximately one third of the different words were produced only at home, one third only at preschool, and another one third were used across both home and preschool contexts. Commonality of word use across the two settings increased when tape recordings in each setting were completed within the same day. Structure words comprised less than 2% of the vocabulary unique to the home or preschool setting but 21 to 22% of the shared vocabulary that was used in both contexts. The results contribute information that can be useful when selecting core vocabulary for young children who require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems to be used in home and preschool settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-236
Number of pages13
JournalAugmentative and Alternative Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1994


  • home
  • preschool
  • vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing

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