An Analysis of How Quickly and Efficaciously Children with Specific Language Impairments Learn Verbs Compared to Children with Typical Language Development

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Speech-language pathologists are challenged with providing children with treatment that results in the greatest amount of improvement in the least amount of time. To aid in this challenge, we examined how quickly and efficaciously seven children with a specific language impairment (SLI) learned verbs compared to seven children with typical language (TL) development. Each child was taught the meaning and use of six nonsense verbs. Nonsense verbs were used to ensure that the target verbs had never been heard by any of the participants before the experiment and allowed us to control verb exposure. Each participant received up to four training sessions of 30-minutes each. During these sessions, the examiner utilized naturalistic conversational techniques and play activities with carefully selected sets of toys that corresponded to the meaning of the target words. The training sessions were ended when children demonstrated 100% accuracy in their understanding of the verbs and 50% accuracy in their production during a probe task. All sessions were audio-recorded and the experimenters and childs utterances were reliably coded. Analysis revealed that the two groups received the same input from the experimenter in terms of the number and type of exposures to the verbs. We examined the childrens nonsense verb productions for their rate and quality. Rate of verb acquisition was measured by counting: 1) the number of sessions required before the criteria for learning was met; 2) the number of exposures before childs first spontaneous production of each target verb; and 3) the number of exposures before childs first elicited production of each target verb. Quality of verb acquisition was measured by counting: 1) the number of alternative real verbs substituted for a nonsense verb and 2) the accuracy of transitive target verb usage. Although the results were not statistically significant for any of the measures tested, there was a trend for children with SLI to learn the target nonsense verbs more slowly but just as


Johnson City, TN

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