Toward an ecobehavioral model of early language development

Andrea L Ford, Marianne Elmquist, Alyssa M Merbler, Amanda Kriese, Kelsey K Will, Scott R. McConnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Language development is an important milestone in early childhood that has implications for later achievement. Although a variety of contemporary models have been offered to describe the process of language acquisition, ecobehavioral models provide descriptive and actionable information on both the causal mechanisms of behavior change and development, as well as variables of influence (e.g., settings, environment, policies). Grounded within sociolinguistic theory and empirical literature, we propose and describe an ecobehavioral model of language development that assumes language is learned through the opportunities afforded by caregiver–child interactions. Functional variables of (a) caregiver knowledge, beliefs, and behavior, (b) environmental components and resource availability, and (c) policies and practices are further described as increasingly distal influences on the timing, frequency, and quality of these interactions. Implications and future directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-258
Number of pages13
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • Ecobehavioral model
  • Interactions
  • Language development


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