Article/Report  |   October 2006
The Relationship Between Phonological Memory, Receptive Vocabulary, and Fast Mapping in Young Children With Specific Language Impairment
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Shelley Gray, Department of Speech and Hearing Science, P.O. Box 870102, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0102. E-mail: Shelley.Gray@asu.edu
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article/Report   |   October 2006
The Relationship Between Phonological Memory, Receptive Vocabulary, and Fast Mapping in Young Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2006, Vol. 49, 955-969. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/069)
History: Received June 24, 2005 , Accepted January 3, 2006
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2006, Vol. 49, 955-969. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/069)
History: Received June 24, 2005; Accepted January 3, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 36

Purpose: This study assessed the fast mapping performance of children with specific language impairment (SLI) across the preschool to kindergarten age span in relation to their phonological memory and vocabulary development.

Method: Fifty-three children diagnosed with SLI and 53 children with normal language (NL) matched for age and gender (30 three-year-olds, 18 four-year-olds, 28 five-year-olds, and 30 six-year-olds) participated. Children’s phonological memory was assessed using nonword repetition and digit span tasks. Receptive vocabulary was assessed using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test—III. Children learned the names for 8 objects during 2 fast mapping tasks.

Results: Overall, the NL group demonstrated significantly better performance on phonological memory and vocabulary measures across the age span; however, performance on the fast mapping task differed significantly only at age 5. Phonological memory and existing receptive vocabulary did not predict fast mapping ability.

Conclusions: The phonological memory skills of preschoolers with NL and SLI followed a similar developmental pattern, but the SLI group consistently scored significantly lower than the NL group. Overall, the NL group showed significantly better receptive vocabulary, with evidence that between-group differences increased at age 6. Neither short-term phonological memory nor receptive vocabulary predicted fast mapping comprehension or production performance, even though both have been shown to correlate with later stages of word learning.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R03 DC04240-04. Thanks to Rebecca Vance, Matthew Myrvik, Karina Sandweg, Florence Dairman, Jaime Berman, Randi Schechter, and Jacqui Williams for their work on this project and to the undergraduate students from the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Arizona State University, and the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, who served as research assistants. We appreciate the valuable contribution of the children and their families.
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