Comparison of Conversation, Freeplay, and Story Generation as Methods of Language Sample Elicitation The spontaneous language sample forms an important part of the language evaluation protocol (M. Dunn, J. Flax, M. Sliwinski, & D. Aram, 1996; J. L. Evans & H. K. Craig, 1992; L. E. Evans & J. Miller, 1999) because of the limitations of standardized language tests and their unavailability in ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2004
Comparison of Conversation, Freeplay, and Story Generation as Methods of Language Sample Elicitation
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Frenette Southwood
    Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Ann F. Russell
    Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: fs@sun.ac.za
  • Contact author: Frenette Southwood, Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, Stellenbosch, South Africa. E-mail: fs@sun.ac.za
Article Information
Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2004
Comparison of Conversation, Freeplay, and Story Generation as Methods of Language Sample Elicitation
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2004, Vol. 47, 366-376. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/030)
History: Received November 8, 2002 , Accepted March 17, 2003
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2004, Vol. 47, 366-376. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/030)
History: Received November 8, 2002; Accepted March 17, 2003
Web of Science® Times Cited: 20

The spontaneous language sample forms an important part of the language evaluation protocol (M. Dunn, J. Flax, M. Sliwinski, & D. Aram, 1996; J. L. Evans & H. K. Craig, 1992; L. E. Evans & J. Miller, 1999) because of the limitations of standardized language tests and their unavailability in certain languages, such as Afrikaans. This study examined 3 methods of language elicitation, namely conversation (CV), freeplay (FP), and story generation (SG), on the following 5 measures to determine which method is best for clinical practice: number of utterances, variety of syntactic structures, mean length of the utterance (MLU), number of syntactic errors, and proportion of complex syntactic utterances as elicited from ten 5-year-old, Afrikaans-speaking boys. FP elicited significantly more utterances than did SG but elicited a smaller proportion of complex syntactic structures than did CV and SG. Furthermore, SG elicited longer utterances than did CV or FP. It is recommended that SG be used in clinical practice with 5-year-olds if the clinician wishes to observe maximum behavior. Where typical behavior is to be evaluated, the clinician can select a language elicitation method that best suits the client’s personality and communication style, bearing in mind that FP does elicit a larger language sample.

Acknowledgments
We thank the Director of the Cape Education Department for permission to perform the study; the staff, parents, and students at a local kindergarten for their participation; and Ondene Van Dulm for her helpful comments on the manuscript.
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