The Relationship Between Turn Rates for Conversation and the Years of Experience in the Field of Childcare


As LENA Grow may help accelerate children’s development in their language and help them develop their language skills, it could also improve early childhood educators’ abilities to create optimal language environments inside their schools. This is according to LENA’s latest data analysis from 445 teachers who participated as part of LENA Grow.

The main takeaway

Although experienced teachers encourage more classroom interaction, the LENA Program helps less experienced teachers get up to speed. Whatever the setting in the classroom, the numbers held for the Head Start, center-based and child care homes for families Early children’s educators who are relatively new to the field will benefit from the LENA’s feedback loop.

“Some 55,000 early educators have taken part within LENA Grow,” said Dr Jill Gilkerson, Chief Research and Evaluation Officer at LENA. “We’ve collected enough information about teacher experience to discover some fascinating patterns in how different teachers react to the LENA Grow program.”

Do the classroom interaction and the experience of the teacher have an impact?

The most fundamental question that shaped the study was: Do teachers with greater teaching experience have more conversations with the children under their care?

The quick answer: Yes.

The answer is yes. There are many different ways to consider the numbers that are a baseline:

  • Classrooms in which the teacher with the highest experience had at least 15 years of experience were enrolled in the LENA program and engaged in around 21% more conversations on average than classrooms in which the teacher with the highest experience was Between one and four years of teaching experience.
  • Classrooms with teachers with fifteen years of teaching knowledge began to engage in around 35% more conversational turn on average than classrooms in which all teachers had less than five years of teaching experience. 
  • Classrooms in which the most experienced teacher had at minimum 15 years of experience were considerably more likely not to get classified in the category of “lower conversation.” A “lower talking” class is one where students have less than 15 conversations per hour, on average.

In the case of fostering interactions between children and teachers in the classroom, the experience counts. These figures suggest that encouraging conversations is something a talented teacher can develop in the long run and is not necessarily a natural ability they possess or don’t possess.

This is known as the LENA Grow effect: Who gets the most benefit?

As a professional development program based on a data system, LENA Grow is designed to aid early childhood teachers in increasing the interactions their children are exposed to. Many other advantages come with it, including greater satisfaction with work and confidence among teachers, increased emotional and social skills, and the development of language in children. The core of the program, however, LENA Grow is about increasing one crucial metric: the number of conversational turns each child classroom gets to experience.

In particular, looking at Head Start classrooms, we observe the LENA Grow effect more clearly. The Head Start teachers with less than five years of experience increased their turn-around rates between 27 and 32 conversations per hour, which puts them close to those with more classroom experience. (and concluded) the program.

The main point is classroom interaction and experience for teachers

For clarity, we’ve seen many highly skilled early elementary teachers recommend the LENA Program.

The importance of LENA Grows is evident not just in the conversational turn rate. It’s often a factor that isn’t necessarily quantifiable.