Connell, P. & Stone, C. (1992). Morpheme learning of children with specific language impairment under controlled instructional conditions. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, Volume 35, 844-852.
Connell and Stone (1992) examined how children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) learn differently than Typically Developing (TD) children. The study investigated language learning in children with SLI under controlled experimental teaching conditions. According to Connell’s previous work (1986), children with SLI do not differ from children with TD in learning language rules during teaching sessions under an imitation condition that requires imitating and producing language rules. In comparison, children with SLI showed poorer learning of language rules under a modeling condition that required only listening to the input.
The 1992 study compared the comprehension and production performance of children with SLI, and either age or language - matched groups. Specifically, it examined children’s mastery of learning the new morphemes under modeling and imitation instruction conditions. Using a computerized language- teaching program, children were taught a set of invented morphemes over a two-week period. The results indicated that for morpheme comprehension, there was no difference between children with SLI and the control groups under modeling or imitation conditions. On the other hand, for morpheme production, children with SLI scored significantly lower than the other groups in the modeling, but not the imitation condition. In sum, children with SLI produced the invented new morphemes more reliably under imitation trials than modeling trials. However, TD children showed no such preferences regarding either the molding or imitation instruction.
These results suggest that children with SLI may fail to learn language simply from hearing language models. Rather, children with SLI may benefit from learning in a richer context involving production and comprehension.
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