Expository Discourse in Adolescents With Language Impairments: Examining Syntactic Development Purpose This study examined syntactic development in a large cohort of adolescents. At kindergarten, each participant had been identified as having specific language impairment (SLI), nonspecific language impairment (NLI), or typical language development (TLD). Method The participants (n = 444) had a mean age of 13;11 (years;months; range ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 01, 2008
Expository Discourse in Adolescents With Language Impairments: Examining Syntactic Development
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marilyn A. Nippold
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Tracy C. Mansfield
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Jesse L. Billow
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • J. Bruce Tomblin
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Contact author: Marilyn A. Nippold, Communication Disorders and Sciences, College of Education, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403. E-mail: nippold@uoregon.edu.
Article Information
Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 2008
Expository Discourse in Adolescents With Language Impairments: Examining Syntactic Development
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2008, Vol. 17, 356-366. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/07-0049)
History: Received June 28, 2007 , Revised November 8, 2007 , Accepted February 23, 2008
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2008, Vol. 17, 356-366. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/07-0049)
History: Received June 28, 2007; Revised November 8, 2007; Accepted February 23, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 32

Purpose This study examined syntactic development in a large cohort of adolescents. At kindergarten, each participant had been identified as having specific language impairment (SLI), nonspecific language impairment (NLI), or typical language development (TLD).

Method The participants (n = 444) had a mean age of 13;11 (years;months; range = 12;10–15;5). Language samples were elicited in 2 genres, conversational and expository, and analyzed for mean length of T-unit and subordinate clause production.

Results Mean length of T-unit and the use of nominal, relative, and adverbial clauses were greater during the expository task than the conversational task for all groups. Thus, even the SLI and NLI groups produced longer sentences containing greater amounts of subordination when speaking in the expository genre than in the conversational genre. No group differences were revealed by the conversational task. However, on the expository task, the TLD group outperformed both the SLI and NLI groups on mean length of T-unit, and the TLD group outperformed the NLI group on relative clause use.

Conclusions Speech-language pathologists may wish to employ expository discourse tasks rather than conversational tasks to examine syntactic development in adolescents.

Acknowledgments
Grant 2P50DC02746-06A1 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders supported this project. The authors express sincere gratitude to the granting agency, the adolescents who participated in this project, their parents and guardians who granted permission, and to the following individuals who assisted with participant recruitment and data collection and management: Marlea O’Brien, Xuyang Zhang, Paula Buckwalter, and Connie Ferguson. Portions of this project were presented at the Symposium for Research in Child Language Disorders, Madison, WI, June 2005, and at the Afasic 4th International Symposium, Warwick, United Kingdom, April 2007.
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