The Search for Common Ground Part II. Nonlinguistic Performance by Linguistically Diverse Learners Research Article
Research Article  |   August 2004
The Search for Common Ground
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kathryn Kohnert
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Jennifer Windsor
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: or
  • Contact author: Kathryn Kohnert or Jennifer Windsor, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, 115 Shevlin Hall, University of Minnesota,164 Pillsbury Drive, SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: or
  • Copyright © 2004 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 2004
The Search for Common Ground
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2004, Vol. 47, 891-903. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/066)
History: Received May 26, 2003 , Revised September 15, 2003 , Accepted December 11, 2003
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2004, Vol. 47, 891-903. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/066)
History: Received May 26, 2003; Revised September 15, 2003; Accepted December 11, 2003

Below-average performance on some nonlinguistic tasks often is considered a potential correlate of primary language impairment (LI). If nonlinguistic cognitive processing truly is deficient in children with LI, then measures may be identified that distinguish language learners at risk for LI that are independent of the number and type of languages learned. This study focuses on within- and across-stask performance on 4 basic nonlinguistic processing tasks. The aim was to systematically investigate areas of potential overlap and divergence among 3 groups of linguistically diverse children: English-only speakers with LI, typically developing English-only speakers (EO), and typically developing bilingual Spanish—English speakers (BI). The performance of the 100 8–13-year-old children who took part in J. Windsor and K. Kohnert’s (2004) study was analyzed. Experimental tasks were simple and choice versions of auditory- and visual-detection tasks. Each task included 4 levels of motor difficulty: responfficient or faulty language-processing skills). ding with the preferred and nonpreferred hand and foot. Analyses revealed no significant differences among groups in simple auditory detection. The EO group was significantly faster than the LI group in each of the other 3 tasks. While the same pattern was evident for the BI group, the difference was significant only in choice visual detection. Overall patterns of response latency within and across tasks were qualitatively similar across the 3 groups. Development, indexed here by chronological age, played a significant role in predicting response latencies for children in all 3 groups.

Portions of this study were presented at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Atlanta, GA, November 2002. Funding for this research was provided by National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R03 DC05542, titled “Cognitive—Linguistic Processing in LI and L2 Learners,” awarded to Kathryn Kohnert, and R01 DC04437, titled “General Slowing in Language Impairment: Does It Exist?” awarded to Jennifer Windsor. Additional funding was provided to Kathryn Kohnert by the University of Minnesota (McKnight Land-Grant Professorship and Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship) and to Jennifer Windsor and Kathryn Kohnert (Interdisciplinary Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities Program).
We are grateful to the following research assistants for help with stimulus development, data collection, and data scoring: Meredith Bailey-Orr, Krista Bowe, Tara Cassidy, Kerry Danahy, Mark DeRuiter, Caren Dorman, Patti Dropik, Martha Hegewisch, Pui Fong Kan, Ruth Miller, Amanda Rowe, Cheryl Street, Krisana Theis, Sara Turman, and Dongsun Yim. We thank Edward Carney for technical assistance.
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