Sensitivity and Specificity of French Language and Processing Measures for the Identification of Primary Language Impairment at Age 5 PurposeResearch on the diagnostic accuracy of different language measures has focused primarily on English. This study examined the sensitivity and specificity of a range of measures of language knowledge and language processing for the identification of primary language impairment (PLI) in French-speaking children. Because of the lack of well-documented language ... Article
Article  |   April 01, 2011
Sensitivity and Specificity of French Language and Processing Measures for the Identification of Primary Language Impairment at Age 5
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Elin Thordardottir
    McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Eva Kehayia
    McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Barbara Mazer
    McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Nicole Lessard
    Centre de Réadaptation Marie-Enfant, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Centre de Réadaptation Marie-Enfant, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Annette Majnemer
    McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Ann Sutton
    Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Natacha Trudeau
    Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Gevorg Chilingaryan
    Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire en Réadaption du Montréal Métropolitain (CRIR), Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire en Réadaption du Montréal Métropolitain (CRIR), Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Ann Sutton is now at the University of Ottawa.
    Ann Sutton is now at the University of Ottawa.×
  • Correspondence to Elin Thordardottir: elin.thordardottir@mcgill.ca
  • Editor: Karla McGregor
    Editor: Karla McGregor×
  • Associate Editor: Johanne Paradis
    Associate Editor: Johanne Paradis×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Language
Article   |   April 01, 2011
Sensitivity and Specificity of French Language and Processing Measures for the Identification of Primary Language Impairment at Age 5
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2011, Vol. 54, 580-597. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0196)
History: Received September 9, 2009 , Revised February 22, 2010 , Accepted August 9, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2011, Vol. 54, 580-597. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0196)
History: Received September 9, 2009; Revised February 22, 2010; Accepted August 9, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 26

PurposeResearch on the diagnostic accuracy of different language measures has focused primarily on English. This study examined the sensitivity and specificity of a range of measures of language knowledge and language processing for the identification of primary language impairment (PLI) in French-speaking children. Because of the lack of well-documented language measures in French, it is difficult to accurately identify affected children, and thus research in this area is impeded.

MethodThe performance of 14 monolingual French-speaking children with confirmed, clinically identified PLI (M = 61.4 months of age, SD = 7.2 months) on a range of language and language processing measures was compared with the performance of 78 children with confirmed typical language development (M age = 58.9 months, SD = 5.7). These included evaluations of receptive vocabulary, receptive grammar, spontaneous language, narrative production, nonword repetition, sentence imitation, following directions, rapid automatized naming, and digit span. Sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratios were determined at 3 cutoff points: (a) −1 SD, (b) −1.28 SD, and (b) −2 SD below mean values. Receiver operator characteristic curves were used to identify the most accurate cutoff for each measure.

ResultsSignificant differences between the PLI and typical language development groups were found for the majority of the language measures, with moderate to large effect sizes. The measures differed in their sensitivity and specificity, as well as in which cutoff point provided the most accurate decision. Ideal cutoff points were in most cases between the mean and −1 SD. Sentence imitation and following directions appeared to be the most accurate measures.

ConclusionsThis study provides evidence that standardized measures of language and language processing provide accurate identification of PLI in French. The results are strikingly similar to previous results for English, suggesting that in spite of structural differences between the languages, PLI in both languages involves a generalized language delay across linguistic domains, which can be identified in a similar way using existing standardized measures.

Acknowledgments
This study was funded by a grant from Quebec’s Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux (Ministry of Health and Social Services), awarded to Elin Thordardottir and Eva Kehayia as principal investigators, and to collaborators André Courcy (deceased in 2004), Nicole Lessard, Annette Majnemer, Barbara Mazer, Ann Sutton, and Natacha Trudeau. Various assistance and support provided by the Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire en Réadaption du Montréal Métropolitain is acknowledged, as is assistance provided by the Centre for Research on Language, Mind and Brain. The authors further acknowledge the assistance of Marie-Hélène Vanier, Veronica Osborn, Julia Levy, and Nancy Fung. Last but not least, the authors extend warm thanks to the parents and children who participated in the study and made it possible.
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