A Prosodically Controlled Word and Nonword Repetition Task for 2- to 4-Year-Olds: Evidence From Typically Developing Children

Roy, Penny; Chiat, Shula
February 2004
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Feb2004, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p223
Academic Journal
An association has been found between nonword repetition and language skills in school-age children with both typical and atypical language development (C. Dollaghan & T. F. Campbell, 1998; S. Ellis Weismer et al., 2000; S. E. Gathercole & A. D. Baddeley, 1990; J. W. Montgomery, 2002). This raises the possibility that younger children's repetition performance may be predictive of later language deficits. In order to investigate this possibility, it is important to establish that elicited repetition with very young children is both feasible and informative. To this end, a repetition task was designed and carried out with 66 children between 2 and 4 years of age. The task consisted of 18 words and 18 matched nonwords that were systematically manipulated for length and prosodic structure. In addition, an assessment of receptive vocabulary was administered. The repetition task elicited high levels of response. Total scores as well as word and nonword scores were sensitive to age. Lexical status and item length affected performance regardless of age: Words were repeated more accurately than nonwords, and 1-syllable items were repeated more accurately than 2- syllable items, which were in turn repeated more accurately than 3-syllable items. The effect of prosodic structure was also significant. Whole syllable errors were almost exclusive to unstressed syllables, with those preceding stress being most vulnerable. Performance on the repetition task was significantly correlated with performance on the receptive vocabulary test. This repetition task effectively elicited responses from most of the 2- to 4-year-old participants, tapped developmental change in their repetition skills, and revealed patterns in their performance; and thus it has the potential to identify deficits in very early repetition skills that may be indicative of wider language difficulties.


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