University of Cologne

Language Use of German Preschool Children with and without Disabilities

Boenisch & Sachse 2007

The aim of this study was to identify the most frequently used words by German preschool children (3-6 years) with and without physical disabilities.

Methods: Speech samples from 25 typically developing preschool children and 47 preschool children with physical disabilities were collected during play activities. The samples were transcribed verbatim and analyzed with Lingofox© to determine the frequency of the words (basic forms) in each sample. The words were also classified according to the word classes.

Findings: Analyses reveal that

(1) the most frequently used words are mostly grammatical words like yes, a, is, and, I, can, not, and what.

(2) both groups use similar high frequency words.

(3) the top 100 words (listed below) account for more than 65% of the total words communicated.

The results provide a helpful resource for selecting, prioritizing and organizing vocabulary on AAC systems but also for language learning. This data and these insights were the start of a wide range of application projects on the topic of core vocabulary and AAC: Cologne communication boards and binders with a core vocabulary frame, a similar vocabulary for a speech generating device (MyCore, Score), wall panels, focus words...

Top 100 from the preschool project (Boenisch/Sachse/Musketa 2007)


Boenisch, J./Sachse, S. (2007): Sprachförderung von Anfang an. Zum Einsatz von Kern- und Randvokabular in der frühen Förderung. In: Unterstützte Kommunikation, 3/2007, 12-20.

Boenisch, J./Musketa, B./Sachse, S. (2007): Die Bedeutung des Vokabulars für den Spracherwerb und Konsequenzen für die Gestaltung von Kommunikationsoberflächen. In: Sachse, S./Birngruber,C./Arendes, S. (Hrsg.): Lernen und Lehren in der Unterstützten Kommunikation.Karlsruhe, 355-371.

Sachse, S./Boenisch, J. (2009): Kern- und Randvokabular in der Unterstützten Kommunikation: Grundlagen und Anwendung. In: von Loeper/ISAAC (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Unterstützten Kommunikation, Teil 1: Grundlagen, Karlsruhe.