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Cross-language Nonword Repetition by Bilingual and Monolingual Children

  • 31/03/2022
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Purpose: identifying children with primary or specific language impairment (li) in languages other than english continues to present a diagnostic challenge. This study examined the utility of english and spanish nonword repetition (nwr) to identify children known to have li. Method: participants were 4 groups of schoolage children (n = 187). There were 2 typically developing groups: proficient spanish-english sequential bilinguals and monolingual english speakers. There were 2 groups of children with li, one spanish-english and the other monolingual english speakers. Children participated in both english and spanish nwr. Results: children’s nwr performance was significantly correlated across languages. In english nwr, the 2 groups with li had lower accuracy at the longest syllable length than the 2 typically developing groups. In spanish nwr, monolingual children with li had lower repetition accuracy than bilingual children with li and typical monolingual children, with all 3 groups outperformed by the typical bilingual group. Likelihood ratios indicated adequate diagnostic power only for english nwr in ruling out the typical bilingual children as showing li. Conclusion: the results demonstrate that nwr performance relies on the dual influences of li and native language experience. However, it remains possible that nwr is useful in a composite marker for li. American speech-language-hearing association.

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