Authors: Lowe H, Henry L, Müller L-M, Joffe VL
Title: Vocabulary intervention for adolescents with language disorder: a systematic review
Source: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 2018 53(2): 199-217
Year: 2018
Research Design: Systematic Review

Background: Language disorder and associated vocabulary difficulties can persist into adolescence, and can impact on long‐term life outcomes. Previous reviews have shown that a variety of intervention techniques can successfully enhance students’ vocabulary skills; however, none has investigated vocabulary intervention specifically for adolescents with language disorder. Aims: To carry out a systematic review of the literature on vocabulary interventions for adolescents with language disorder. Methods & Procedures: A systematic search of 14 databases and other sources yielded 1320 studies, of which 13 met inclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria were: intervention effectiveness studies with a focus on enhancing oral receptive and/or expressive vocabulary skills in the study's aims; participants in the age range 11;0–16;11 with receptive and/or expressive language difficulties of any aetiology. Main Contribution: There was a high degree of diversity between studies. Types of intervention included: semantic intervention (four studies); comparison of phonological versus semantic intervention (two); and combined phonological–semantic intervention (seven). The strongest evidence for effectiveness was found with a combined phonological–semantic approach. The evidence suggested a potential for all models of delivery to be helpful (individual, small group and whole class). Conclusions & Implications: Tentative evidence is emerging for the effectiveness of a phonological–semantic approach in enhancing the vocabulary skills of adolescents who have language disorder. Future research needs to refine and develop the methodologies used in this diverse group of studies in order to replicate their findings and to build consensus.

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