Recast Density and Acquisition of Novel Irregular Past Tense Verbs Purpose Children with specific language impairment (SLI) lag behind children with typical language (TL) in their grammatical development, despite equivalent early exposure to recasts in conversation (M. E. Fey, T. E. Krulik, D. F. Loeb, & K. Proctor-Williams, 1999) and the ability to learn from recasts in intervention as quickly ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2007
Recast Density and Acquisition of Novel Irregular Past Tense Verbs
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kerry Proctor-Williams
    East Tennessee State University, Johnson City
  • Marc E. Fey
    University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
  • Contact author: Kerry Proctor-Williams, Department of Communicative Disorders, East Tennessee State University, 100 Central Receiving Drive, Johnson City, TN 37614. E-mail: williamk@etsu.edu.
Article Information
Development / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2007
Recast Density and Acquisition of Novel Irregular Past Tense Verbs
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2007, Vol. 50, 1029-1047. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/072)
History: Received January 23, 2006 , Revised July 28, 2006 , Accepted November 21, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2007, Vol. 50, 1029-1047. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/072)
History: Received January 23, 2006; Revised July 28, 2006; Accepted November 21, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 32

Purpose Children with specific language impairment (SLI) lag behind children with typical language (TL) in their grammatical development, despite equivalent early exposure to recasts in conversation (M. E. Fey, T. E. Krulik, D. F. Loeb, & K. Proctor-Williams, 1999) and the ability to learn from recasts in intervention as quickly as do children with TL (K. E. Nelson, S. Camarata, J. Welsh, L. Butovsky, & M. Camarata, 1996). This experiment tested whether this apparent paradox could be attributed to variations in the density of recasts in conversation versus intervention.

Method Thirteen children (7–8 years of age) with SLI and 13 language-similar children (5–6 years of age) with TL were exposed to 3 recast densities of novel irregular past tense verbs (none, conversation-like, intervention-like) over 5 sessions. Outcomes were based on spontaneous conversational productions and a post-test probe.

Results As predicted, at conversation-like densities, children with TL more accurately produced the target verbs they heard in recasts than in nonrecast models (d = 0.58), children with SLI showed no differences, and children with TL produced the verbs more accurately than did children with SLI (d = 0.54). Contrary to expectations, at higher intervention-like recast densities, the SLI group did not improve their accuracy, and the TL group performances were significantly poorer (d = 0.47).

Conclusion At conversational levels, recasts facilitated greater verb learning than models alone but only in the TL group. Increasing recast density to the modest levels in this brief intervention experiment did not benefit children with SLI and led to poorer learning for children with TL. To optimize learning, efficiency of recast distribution as well as rate must be considered.

Acknowledgments
The research presented in this article was conducted in partial fulfillment of the dissertation requirement of Kerry Proctor-Williams at the University of Kansas. Earlier versions of this work were presented at the 2005 Symposium on Research in Child Language Development in Madison, Wisconsin, and at the 2006 Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. We extend our most sincere thanks to the children and their families who granted us the privilege of studying their language learning. We also thank John Colombo, Diane Frome Loeb, Sarah Thomas Rosen, and Jane Wegner for their valuable contributions throughout all stages of the this project and the master’s students who spent so many hours coding samples for reliability: Lori Bookbinder, Jennifer Lockhart, and Traci Van Nostran.
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