Verb Learning in Children With SLI Frequency and Spacing Effects Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2005
Verb Learning in Children With SLI
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • N. G. Riches
    University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
  • M. Tomasello
    Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
  • Gina Conti-Ramsden
    University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2005
Verb Learning in Children With SLI
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2005, Vol. 48, 1397-1411. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/097)
History: Received May 14, 2004 , Revised January 5, 2005 , Accepted March 29, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2005, Vol. 48, 1397-1411. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/097)
History: Received May 14, 2004; Revised January 5, 2005; Accepted March 29, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 40

Purpose: This study explored the effect of frequency (number of presentations), and spacing (period between presentations) on verb learning in children with specific language impairment (SLI). Children learn words more efficiently when presentations are frequent and appropriately spaced, and this study investigated whether children with SLI likewise benefit. Given that these children demonstrate greater frequency dependence and rapid forgetting of recently acquired words, an investigation of frequency and spacing in this population is especially warranted.

Method: Twenty-four children with SLI (mean age 5;6 [years;months]) and 24 language-matched control children (mean age 3;4) were taught novel verbs during play sessions. In a repeated measures design, 4 experimental conditions combined frequency (12 or 18 presentations) and spacing (all presentations in 1 session, or spread over 4 days). Comprehension and production probes were administered after the final session and 1 week later.

Results: Although the children with SLI benefited significantly from frequent and widely spaced presentations, there were no significant effect in the control group. The language-impaired children showed rapid forgetting.

Conclusions: The frequency and spacing of presentations crucially affect the verb learning of children with SLI. A training regimen characterized by appropriately spaced intervals and moderate repetition will optimally benefit lexical learning.

Acknowledgments
We thank the Economic and Social Research Council for their 3-year PhD grant (No. R42200134399, awarded to
N. G. Riches), and Mike Tomasello at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, for his funding to Gina Conti-Ramsden and his continued support and advice. In addition, we acknowledge the helpful and insightful comments made by the reviewers on earlier versions of this article. We also thank the parents; guardians; speech and language therapists; teachers; careworkers; and, above all, the children who participated in this project. Finally, we thank Kirsten Windfuhr for her help in collecting some of the initial data.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access