General Language Performance Measures in Spoken and Written Narrative and Expository Discourse of School-Age Children With Language Learning Disabilities Language performance in naturalistic contexts can be characterized by general measures of productivity, fluency, lexical diversity, and grammatical complexity and accuracy. The use of such measures as indices of language impairment in older children is open to questions of method and interpretation. This study evaluated the extent to which 10 ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2000
General Language Performance Measures in Spoken and Written Narrative and Expository Discourse of School-Age Children With Language Learning Disabilities
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Cheryl M. Scott
    Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK
  • Jennifer Windsor
    University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: cmscott@okstate.edu
Article Information
Language Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2000
General Language Performance Measures in Spoken and Written Narrative and Expository Discourse of School-Age Children With Language Learning Disabilities
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2000, Vol. 43, 324-339. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4302.324
History: Received April 2, 1999 , Accepted September 8, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2000, Vol. 43, 324-339. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4302.324
History: Received April 2, 1999; Accepted September 8, 1999

Language performance in naturalistic contexts can be characterized by general measures of productivity, fluency, lexical diversity, and grammatical complexity and accuracy. The use of such measures as indices of language impairment in older children is open to questions of method and interpretation. This study evaluated the extent to which 10 general language performance measures (GLPM) differentiated school-age children with language learning disabilities (LLD) from chronological-age (CA) and language-age (LA) peers. Children produced both spoken and written summaries of two educational videotapes that provided models of either narrative or expository (informational) discourse. Productivity measures, including total T-units, total words, and words per minute, were significantly lower for children with LLD than for CA children. Fluency (percent T-units with mazes) and lexical diversity (number of different words) measures were similar for all children. Grammatical complexity as measured by words per T-unit was significantly lower for LLD children. However, there was no difference among groups for clauses per T-unit. The only measure that distinguished children with LLD from both CA and LA peers was the extent of grammatical error. Effects of discourse genre and modality were consistent across groups. Compared to narratives, expository summaries were shorter, less fluent (spoken versions), more complex (words per T-unit), and more error prone. Written summaries were shorter and had more errors than spoken versions. For many LLD and LA children, expository writing was exceedingly difficult. Implications for accounts of language impairment in older children are discussed.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported in part by a grant to the second author from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R29-DC02402). Additional support was provided by a grant to the first author from the College of Arts and Sciences, Oklahoma State University. The authors acknowledge the many contributions of graduate research assistants Susan Marietta, Rochelle Milbrath, and Kari Urberg Carlson, Department of Communication Disorders, University of Minnesota, and Sarah Daly-Burchett, Tricia McAlister, and Renee Turnage, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Oklahoma State University.
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