Article  |   December 2011
Content and Form in the Narratives of Children With Specific Language Impairment
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Paola Colozzo
    The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Ronald B. Gillam
    Utah State University, Logan
  • Megan Wood
    The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Rebecca D. Schnell
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Judith R. Johnston
    The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Disclosure Statement
    Disclosure Statement×
    Ronald B. Gillam is an author and receives royalties for the sales of the Test of Narrative Language (Gillam & Pearson, 2004), which was used for data collection in this research.
    Ronald B. Gillam is an author and receives royalties for the sales of the Test of Narrative Language (Gillam & Pearson, 2004), which was used for data collection in this research.×
  • Correspondence to Paola Colozzo: paola.colozzo@audiospeech.ubc.ca
  • Editor: Anne Smith
    Editor: Anne Smith×
  • Associate Editor: Cheryl Scott
    Associate Editor: Cheryl Scott×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language
Article   |   December 2011
Content and Form in the Narratives of Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2011, Vol. 54, 1609-1627. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0247)
History: Received September 2, 2010 , Accepted April 8, 2011
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2011, Vol. 54, 1609-1627. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0247)
History: Received September 2, 2010; Accepted April 8, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

Purpose: This project investigated the relationship of content and form in the narratives of school-age children.

Method: Two samples of children with specific language impairment (SLI) and their age-matched peers (British Columbia sample, M age = 9;0 [years;months], N = 26; Texas/Kansas sample, M age = 7;6, N = 40) completed the Test of Narrative Language (TNL; Gillam & Pearson, 2004). The relative strength of content elaboration and grammatical accuracy were measured for each child using variables derived from the TNL scoring system (Study 1) and from analysis of the story texts (Study 2).

Results: Both studies indicated that, compared with age peers, the children with SLI were more likely to produce stories of uneven strength—either stories with poor content that were grammatically quite accurate or stories with elaborated content that were less grammatical.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that school-age children with SLI may struggle with the cumulative load of creating a story that is both elaborate and grammatical. They also show that the absence of errors is not necessarily a sign of strength. Finally, they underscore the value of comparing individual differences in multiple linguistic domains, including the elaboration of content, grammatical accuracy, and syntactic complexity.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported in part by a scholarship from the Bamford-Lahey Children’s Foundation to the first author, Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada Grant 138128-01 to the fifth author, and National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant U01 DC04560 to the second author. We are most grateful to the children, families, speech-language pathologists, teachers, and schools, who with their participation and assistance made this project possible. We would also like to thank Rachel Moser for her participation in data collection as well as Lindsay Donaghy and Heather Morris for their work on the transcriptions and coding.
Portions of this work were presented at the 2004 conference of the British Columbia Association of Speech/Language Pathologists and Audiologists in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada; the 2006 Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders in Madison, Wisconsin; and the Afasic 4th International Symposium in Warwick, United Kingdom.
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