Signe Tonér

Signe Tonér


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Works at Department of Linguistics
Telephone 08-16 29 30
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 C, plan 2-3
Room C 252
Postal address Institutionen för lingvistik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

PhD student in general linguistics 

Speech-language pathologist


I am/have been involved in bachelor and master level courses in linguistics as well as courses within the speech pathology program at the Karolinska Institute.  I also lecture and lead seminars about language development within the early childhood education program at Stockholm University. 


The aim of my thesis project is to investigate relationships between linguistic skills and executive functions in children aged 4-6 and to examine potential effects of specified preschool interventions with regard to these skills. I am particularly interested in selective auditory attention and narrative skills.

The interdisciplinary research project "Hjärnvägar i förskolan" was a collaboration between the Department of linguistics and the Department of child and youth studies at Stockholm University, funded by Swedish Research Council.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Tove Gerholm (et al.). BMC Psychology 7


    During the preschool years, children’s development of skills like language and communication, executive functions, and socioemotional comprehension undergo dramatic development. Still, our knowledge of how these skills are enhanced is limited. The preschool contexts constitute a well-suited arena for investigating these skills and hold the potential for giving children an equal opportunity preparing for the school years to come. The present study compared two pedagogical methods in the Swedish preschool context as to their effect on language and communication, executive functions, socioemotional comprehension, and early math. The study targeted children in the age span four-to-six-year-old, with an additional focus on these children’s backgrounds in terms of socioeconomic status, age, gender, number of languages, time spent at preschool, and preschool start. An additional goal of the study was to add to prior research by aiming at disentangling the relationship between the investigated variables.


    The study constitutes a randomized controlled trial including 18 preschools and 29 preschool units, with a total of 431 children, and 98 teachers. The interventions lasted for 6 weeks, preceded by pre-testing and followed by post-testing of the children. Randomization was conducted on the level of preschool unit, to either of the two interventions or to control. The interventions consisted of a socioemotional and material learning paradigm (SEMLA) and a digitally implemented attention and math training paradigm (DIL). The preschools were further evaluated with ECERS-3. The main analysis was a series of univariate mixed regression models, where the nested structure of individuals, preschool units and preschools were modeled using random variables.


    The result of the intervention shows that neither of the two intervention paradigms had measurable effects on the targeted skills. However, there were results as to the follow-up questions, such as executive functions predicting all other variables (language and communication, socioemotional comprehension, and math). Background variables were related to each other in patterns congruent with earlier findings, such as socioeconomic status predicting outcome measures across the board. The results are discussed in relation to intervention fidelity, length of intervention, preschool quality, and the impact of background variables on children’s developmental trajectories and life prospects.

  • 2021. Signe Tonér, Tove Nilsson Gerholm. Applied Psycholinguistics 42 (1), 207-241

    Language skills and executive functions (EF) undergo rapid development during preschool years and are foundational for a wide range of life outcomes but little is known of the connections between language and EF in Swedish, typically developing children. The current pilot study included 47 mono- and multilingual children aged 4–6 and aimed at describing the relationship between language and EF and investigating potential associations to age, sex, bi-/multilingualism, socioeconomic status (SES), and aspects of preschool attendance. Measures of language and EF correlated with one another to a large extent, but also showed some differentiation, suggesting a specific link between morphosyntactic ability and inhibition. Age was a significant predictor of most but not all measures. No significant effects of sex were found, with the exception for a female advantage in nonverbal communicative behavior, assessed by a novel rating paradigm. SES did not predict language or EF, and bi- and/or multilingual children did not differ from monolingual Swedish children on language or EF measures. Findings are discussed in relation to the connection between language and EF as well as to the needs of development of reliable language, EF, and communication measures for use in the Swedish context.

  • 2018. Tove Gerholm, Signe Tonér.

    Förskolan är viktig för barns språk- och kommunikations- utveckling, särskilt för dem som inte har optimala förutsättningar. Den som har lätt för kommunikation har en fördel i livet. Genom att stötta barns samtal kan pedagogerna stärka språk och kommunikation.

  • 2018. Tove Gerholm (et al.). BMC Psychology 6


    During the preschool years, children develop abilities and skills in areas crucial for later success in life. These abilities include language, executive functions, attention, and socioemotional skills. The pedagogical methods used in preschools hold the potential to enhance these abilities, but our knowledge of which pedagogical practices aid which abilities, and for which children, is limited. The aim of this paper is to describe an intervention study designed to evaluate and compare two pedagogical methodologies in terms of their effect on the above-mentioned skills in Swedish preschool children.


    The study is a randomized control trial (RCT) where two pedagogical methodologies were tested to evaluate how they enhanced children’s language, executive functions and attention, socioemotional skills, and early maths skills during an intensive 6-week intervention. Eighteen preschools including 28 units and 432 children were enrolled in a municipality close to Stockholm, Sweden. The children were between 4;0 and 6;0 years old and each preschool unit was randomly assigned to either of the interventions or to the control group. Background information on all children was collected via questionnaires completed by parents and preschools. Pre- and post-intervention testing consisted of a test battery including tests on language, executive functions, selective auditive attention, socioemotional skills and early maths skills. The interventions consisted of 6 weeks of intensive practice of either a socioemotional and material learning paradigm (SEMLA), for which group-based activities and interactional structures were the main focus, or an individual, digitally implemented attention and math training paradigm, which also included a set of self-regulation practices (DIL). All preschools were evaluated with the ECERS-3.


    If this intervention study shows evidence of a difference between group-based learning paradigms and individual training of specific skills in terms of enhancing children’s abilities in fundamental areas like language, executive functions and attention, socioemotional skills and early math, this will have big impact on the preschool agenda in the future. The potential for different pedagogical methodologies to have different impacts on children of different ages and with different backgrounds invites a wider discussion within the field of how to develop a preschool curriculum suited for all children.

Show all publications by Signe Tonér at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 19, 2021

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