Authors: Gray S
Title: Word learning by preschoolers with specific language impairment: effect of phonological or semantic cues
Source: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 2005 48(6): 1452-1467
Year: 2005
Research Design: Case Series

PURPOSE: This study investigated whether phonological or semantic encoding cues promoted better word learning for children with specific language impairment (SLI) and whether this treatment differentially affected children with SLI and normal language (NL). METHOD: Twenty-four preschoolers ages 4;0 (years;months) to 5;11 with SLI and 24 age- and gender-matched children with NL participated. The between-group factor was language group (NL, SLI) and within-group factors were language modality (comprehension, recognition, production) and treatment condition (phonological, semantic). Word learning was assessed during fast mapping, word learning, and post-testing with trials to criterion calculated for the number of words learned. A drawing task assessed the change in semantic representation of words. RESULTS: The SLI group comprehended more words in the semantic condition and produced more words in the phonological condition, but the NL group performed similarly in both. The NL group required significantly fewer trials than the SLI group to comprehend words in the semantic and phonological conditions and to produce words in the semantic condition, but between-group differences for production were not significant for the phonological condition. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that preschoolers with SLI may benefit from cues that highlight the phonological or semantic properties of words but that different cues may aid different aspects of word learning.

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