DS0804 -

Language Dynamics, Linguistic Learning, and Sociability at Preschool: Benefits of Wireless Proximity Sensors in Collecting Big Data – DyLNet

Language dynamics, linguistic learning, and sociability at preschool: Benefits of wireless proximity sensors in collecting big data

The main goal of DyLNet is to observe and characterize the relations between child socialization and oral language learning during the preschool period by means of an innovative multidisciplinary approach that combines work in the fields of language acquisition, sociolinguistics and network science.

Socialization at school and development of oral language in preschool

Because preschool is the first step in a child's school career, it is necessary to understand how children from all social groups integrate and adapt to it. Oral language plays a key role in this early contact with the world of school: it is the mean and result of socialization at school and the “vital condition for the success of all pupils” (BOEN, 26/03/2015). Children integrate and adapt at school by communicating. At the same time, school socialization increases the opportunities to communicate with peers and with the adults responsible for the children, promotes learning and strengthens linguistic skills. A virtuous circle – or a spiral of failure – may therefore become established between children's sociability, oral communication and learning at school. <br />The general aim of the DyLNet project is to examine the relations between child socialization and the development of oral language in preschool by means of an innovative multidisciplinary approach that combines work in the fields of language acquisition, sociolinguistics and network science. It will bring a major contribution to an under-explored field: the early transmission of language abilities between children. The project will be structured to permit the attainment of two main objectives: <br />Objective 1 - We shall analyze the link between social interactions and oral language development in a preschool – considered as a community of children and adults – which will be monitored over a period of 3 years. <br />Objective 2 - We shall describe the co-evolution between social network dynamics (changes in the social relations in the community) and the language dynamic in the networks (inter-locutor influences and changes in language abilities).

The DyLNet project will be implemented through the 3-year follow-up of 195 children and the teaching staff at a socially mixed preschool.
The social interactions between individuals will be recorded using wireless sensor technology which will record inter-individual proximity data at 5 second intervals. These sensors will be worn for one week every month for a period of 3 years. At several periods, general language tests will be administered to all the children. Moreover, we will monitor the social use of language of the children and adults in the longitudinal follow-up in natural interactions thanks to microphones implemented on the sensors worn one week per month as well, and this during 3 years.
Finally, the children's social profiles will be identified by means of questionnaires filled out by families.

Thanks to the analytical (detection of communities) and modeling (data driven multi-agent models) power of the network science, the social interaction data will be matched against the children's linguistic performances and sociolinguistic usage. The task, in particular, will be to examine the influence of the children's social relations on their language development (if individuals stay in the same peer community between two observation times, does the linguistic distance between them falls over the same period?) and, equally, the influence of language on these social relations (if two individuals belong to the same linguistic group at time T, does the probability that they will be in the same peer community increase at time T+n?). We shall also examine the interactions between the pupils and the teaching staff – teachers and classroom assistants – in order to observe whether their frequency has an impact on the children's language development.

Apart from the attainment of the scientific objectives of the project, we shall develop and provide to the scientific community a permanent, anonymous database concerning the association between child sociability and language, which will be available, after the end of the project, on the ORTOLANG platform and via the TGIR Huma-Num. This database will include (a) the records of 3 years of social interactions involving the children and teaching staff at the school; (b) the results of the language tests and the results of the longitudinal follow-up of the social usage of language; (c) the sociodemographic information on the children's families.

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Because preschool is the first step in a child's school career, it is necessary to understand how children from different social backgrounds integrate and adapt to it. Oral language plays a key role in this process: it is the mean and result of socialization at school and is the “vital condition for the success of all pupils” (BOEN, 26/03/2015). Children integrate and adapt at school by communicating. At the same time, school socialization increases the opportunities to communicate with peers and with the adults responsible for the children, promotes learning and strengthens linguistic skills. A virtuous circle – or a spiral of failure – may therefore become established between children's sociability, oral communication and learning at school.
Social inequalities are a key factor in this chain since, as of age 2, children from different backgrounds do not exhibit the same level of language skills and do not all use, to the same extent, the linguistic codes that are encouraged at school. These early differences, which are transmitted within the family, have given rise to numerous studies that have revealed the influence of the nature and quantity of the speech addressed to children in different social environments. However, these works tell us little about the influence of peers, which may modulate the impact of the family given that peer groups give rise to a certain social mix, in particular in the school context. School attendance therefore introduces a new factor into the equation, especially when the academic group is socially mixed or through the speech produced by the teachers.
The aim of DyLNet is to observe and characterize the relations between child socialization and oral language learning during the preschool period by means of an innovative multidisciplinary approach that combines work in the fields of language acquisition, sociolinguistics and network science.
It will be implemented through the 3-year follow-up of all the children (˜150) and teaching staff at a socially mixed preschool. The social interactions between individuals will be recorded using wireless sensor technology which will record inter-individual proximity data at 30 second intervals. These sensors will be worn for one week every month for a period of 3 years. We will monitor the children's language development on the basis of their results in general language tests and the recording of their social use of language in natural interactions, through microphones implemented on the sensors. Finally, the children's social profiles will be identified by means of questionnaires sent to their families.
Thanks to the analytical (detection of communities) and modeling (data driven multi-agent models) power of the network science, the social interaction data will be matched against the children's linguistic performances and sociolinguistic usage. The task, in particular, will be to examine the influence of the children's social relations on their language development (if individuals stay in the same peer community between two observation times, does the linguistic distance between them falls over the same period?) and, equally, the influence of language on these social relations (if two individuals belong to the same linguistic group at time T, does the probability that they will be in the same peer community increase at time T+n?). We shall also examine the interactions between the pupils and the teaching staff – teachers and classroom assistants – in order to observe whether their frequency has an impact on the children's language development.

Project coordinator

Madame Aurélie NARDY (Laboratoire de Linguistique et Didactique des Langues Etrangères et Maternelles)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

Lidilem - U-GREN Laboratoire de Linguistique et Didactique des Langues Etrangères et Maternelles
DANTE - INRIA Grenoble Rhône-Alpes Laboratoire DANTE

Help of the ANR 369,821 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: October 2016 - 48 Months

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