Comparison of Conversation, Freeplay, and Story Generation as Methods of Language Sample Elicitation

Southwood, Frenette; Russell, Ann F.
April 2004
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2004, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p366
Academic Journal
The spontaneous language sample forms an important part of the language evaluation protocol (M. Dunn, J. Flax, M. Sliwinski, & D. Aram, 1996; J. L. Evans & H. K. Craig, 1992; L. E. Evans & J. Miller, 1999) because of the limitations of standardized language tests and their unavailability in certain languages, such as Afrikaans. This study examined 3 methods of language elicitation, namely conversation (CV), freeplay (FP), and story generation (SG), on the following 5 measures to determine which method is best for clinical practice: number of utterances, variety of syntactic structures, mean length of the utterance (MLU), number of syntactic errors, and proportion of complex syntactic utterances as elicited from ten 5-year-old, Afrikaans-speaking boys. FP elicited significantly more utterances than did SG but elicited a smaller proportion of complex syntactic structures than did CV and SG. Furthermore, SG elicited longer utterances than did CV or FP. It is recommended that SG be used in clinical practice with 5-year-olds if the clinician wishes to observe maximum behavior. Where typical behavior is to be evaluated, the clinician can select a language elicitation method that best suits the client's personality and communication style, bearing in mind that FP does elicit a larger language sample.


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