MQ TaLK! study

MQ TaLK! study

Macquarie University's Talk-Learn-Know (MQ TaLK!) project is investigating whether and how the language environment experienced by 12 to 18 month old infants supports their language development.

mia-mia-1Studies show that the first two years of a child's life set the foundations for language development. Until now, no Australian study has looked at the role played by early childhood centres in supporting very young children's language development.

MQ TaLK! will investigate how the interactions that occur both in the home and in the early childhood centre set the foundation for later language skills.

Why is this study important? Children's language development in their first three years of life is a key predictor of subsequent academic achievement. Yet we know that children learn language in different ways and at different rates, and many children are struggling in this area before they reach school age. Previous studies have demonstrated that the family-based experiences of infants and toddlers influence their language development. However few studies have examined the language environments in early childhood centres and their impact. As over 25% of Australian under-twos and around 45% of under-threes attend early childhood centres, this is a significant knowledge gap and an important opportunity to make meaningful educational gains.

Findings from the MQ TaLK! study will be be used to support educators and families of infants and toddlers to provide the best start for our youngest children.

What will the study involve? We aim to work with families and educators in over 30 early childhood centres to conduct this study. We will invite parents of children under 18 months to participate. We intend to visit around 240 children over the course of the study. Our study information will be collected in two phases: the first when each participating child is somewhere between 12 and 18 months of age, and the second phase, two years later when the child is three years old.

How will the data be collected? In this large study, we will be using a number of methods at our centre and home visits. As experienced early childhood researchers, the team is very aware of the need to collect research data respectfully and sensitively. We will work collaboratively with families and centres so as to have minimal impact on the child’s normal daily activities and schedules.

Who is conducting the study? The study will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, whose backgrounds cover Early Childhood, Psychology, Audiology and Linguistics.

Participating centres and families will be kept updated via regular newsletters.

A note on confidentiality: Ensuring the confidentiality and privacy of our families, educators and centres is of great importance to us. Information or personal details gathered for the study are strictly confidential. We will de-identify everything by assigning an ID code for the all children, educators and centres. All information will be stored securely and only staff employed by the project will have access.  We will not show video footage or still images of children, families or educators to anyone outside the research team without the specific and separate written consent of all involved.

Want more information about MQ TaLK ? Please call the MQ TaLK! project office on (02) 9850-9842 or email

Content owner: Department of Educational Studies Last updated: 05 Jun 2019 10:15am

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