Intervention in Syntactic Skills in Pupils with Developmental Language Disorder

  1. Víctor M. Acosta-Rodríguez 1
  2. Gustavo M. Ramírez-Santana 1
  3. Sergio Hernández Expósito 1
  4. Ángeles Axpe Caballero
  1. 1 Universidad de La Laguna

    Universidad de La Laguna

    San Cristobal de La Laguna, España



ISSN: 0214-9915 1886-144X

Year of publication: 2020

Volume: 32

Issue: 4

Pages: 541-548

Type: Article

DOI: 10.7334/PSICOTHEMA2020.160 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openOpen access editor

More publications in: Psicothema


Background: The main objective of this research has been to verify the effectiveness of an intervention program on syntactic skills of pupils with typical development and with developmental language disorder. Method: A total of 99 five-year-old pupils from schools of Tenerife (Spain) participated. The CELF-4 Recalling Sentences, Formulated Sentences, and Sentence Structure subtests were used. The intervention program consisted of 40 sessions implemented by teachers and speech language therapists. Three levels of practice were organized: in the ordinary classroom (large group and small group) and in the support classroom. Results: Pupils diagnosed with developmental language disorder initially performed worse on syntax than those with typical development. In addition, the goodness of an intervention program was verified especially for Recalling sentences, and, to a lesser extent, for Sentences Structure, which improves in the experimental group with typical development as well as in the control and experimental groups with language development disorder. Conclusions: A collaborative and inclusive intervention program that uses implicit techniques favors the improvement of certain aspects of the syntactic processing of pupils with developmental language disorder.

Funding information

This research was done as part of the Research Project “Intervención en comprensión lectora en alumnado de riesgo: Retraso de Lenguaje (RL) y Trastorno Específico de Lenguaje (TEL)” (Reference no. EDU2017-84193-R). Funding provided by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of the Government of Spain.

Bibliographic References

  • Andreu, L., Aguado, G., Cardona, C., & Sanz, M. (2013). El trastorno específico del lenguaje [Specific language impairment]. Editorial UOC.
  • Arndt, K. B., & Schuele, C. M. (2012). Production of infinitival complements by children with specific language impairment. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 26(1), 1-17.
  • Bishop, D. V. M., Snowling, M. J., Thompson, P. A., Greenhalgh, T., & CATALISE-2 Consortium (2017). Phase 2 of CATALISE: A multinational and multidisciplinary Delphi consensus study of problems with language development: Terminology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58, 1068-1080. 10.1111/jcpp.12721
  • Bryan, A. (1997). Colourful semantics. In S. Chiat, J. Law, & J. Marshall (Eds.), Language disorders in children and adults: Psycholinguistic approaches to therapy (pp. 143-161). Whurr.
  • Cleave, P., Becker, S., Curran, M., Owen, A., & Fey, M. (2015). The efficacy of recasts in language intervention: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 24(2), 237-251.
  • Coloma, C., Rojas, D., & De Barbieri, Z. (2019). Grammar intervention in children with specific language impairment: A integrative literature review. Revista CEFAC, 21(4).
  • Conti-Ramsden, G., Ullman, M., & Lum, J. (2015). The relation between receptive grammar and procedural, declarative, and working memory in specific language impairment. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1090.
  • Curran, M., & Owen, A. (2019). Causal adverbials to young children with developmental language disorder within a science curriculum: A single case design study. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 28, 430-447.
  • Del Valle, N., Acosta, V., & Ramírez, G. (2018). The grammatical production in the narrative discourse of pupils with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Revista Signos. Estudios de lingüística, 51(98), 264-284.
  • Ebbels, S. (2007). Teaching grammar to school-aged children with specific language impairment using Shape Coding. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 23, 67-93.
  • Ebbels, S. (2014). Effectiveness of intervention for grammar in school-aged children with primary language impairments: A review of the evidence. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 30, 7-40.
  • Ebbels, S., Marić, N., Murphy, A., & Turner, G. (2013). Improving comprehension in adolescents with severe receptive language impairments: A randomized control trial of intervention for coordinating conjunctions. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 49(1), 30-48.
  • Ebbels, S., van der Lely, H., & Dockrell, J. (2007). Intervention for verb argument structure in children with persistent SLI: A randomized control trial. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 50(5), 1330-1349.
  • Fey, M., Cleave, P., Long, S., & Hughes, D. (1993). Two approaches to the facilitation of grammar in children with language impairment: An experimental evaluation. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 36(1), 141-157.
  • Fey, M., & Proctor-William, K. (2000). Recasting, elicited imitation and modelling in grammar intervention for children with specific language impairment. In D. Bishop & L. Leonard (Eds.), Speech and language impairments in children: Causes, characteristics, intervention and outcome (pp. 177-194). Psychology Press.
  • Finestack, L., & Satterlund, K. (2018). Current practice of child grammar intervention: A survey of speech-language pathologists. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27, 1329-1351.
  • Gillam, S., Gillam, R., & Reece, K. (2012). Language outcomes of contextualized and decontextualized language intervention: Results of an early efficacy study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 43, 276-291.
  • Greenwood, C., Carta, J., Schnitz, A., Irving, D., Jia, F., & Atwater, J. (2019). Filling an information gap in preschool MTSS and RTI decision making. Exceptional Children, 85(3), 271-290.
  • Guo, L., Eisenberg, S., Schneider, P., & Spencer, L. (2019). Percent grammatical utterances between 4 and 9 years of age for the Edmonton narrative norms instrument: Reference data and psychometric properties. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 28, 1448-1462.
  • Guo, L., & Schneider, P. (2016). Differentiating school aged children with and without language impairment using tense and grammaticality measures from a narrative task. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 59(2), 317-329.
  • Hall-Mills, S. (2019). A comparison of the prevalence rates of language impairment before and after response-to-intervention implementation. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Shools, 50, 703-709.
  • Kaufman, A., & Kaufman, N. (2000). Test breve de inteligencia de Kaufman (K-BIT) [Kaufman brief intelligence test (K-BIT)]. TEA.
  • Leonard, L., Haebig, E., Deevy, P., & Brown, B. (2017). Tracking the growth of tense and agreement in children with specific language impairment: Differences between measures of accuracy, diversity, and productivity. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60(12), 3590-3600. 2017_jslhr-l-16-0427
  • Leonard, L., & Kueser, J. (2019). Five overarching factors central to grammatical learning and treatment in children with developmental language disorder. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 54(3), 347-361.
  • Levelt, W. (1989). Speaking: From intention to articulation. MIT Press. Luckács, A., Kemény, F., Lum, J., & Ullman, M. (2017). Learning and overnight retention in declarative memory in specific language impairment. PLoS ONE, 12(1), e0169474.
  • McConnell, S., Wackerle, A., Roloff, T., & Rodríguez, M. (2015). Designing a measurement framework for response to intervention in early childhood programs. Journal of Early Intervention, 36(4), 263- 280.
  • Montgomery, D. C. (2017). Design and analysis of experiments. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Norbury, C., & Bishop, D. (2003). Narrative skills of children with communication impairments. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 38, 287-313.
  • Plante, E., Ogilvie, T., Vance, R., Aguilar, J. M., Dailey, N. S., Meyers, C., Lieser, A. M., & Burton, R. (2014). Variability in the language input to children enhances learning in a treatment context. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 23, 530-545.
  • Plante, E., Mettler, H., Tucci, A., & Vance, R. (2019). Maximizing treatment efficiency in developmental language disorder: Positive effects in half the time. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 28, 1233- 1247.
  • Ramírez-Santana, G. M., Acosta-Rodríguez, V. M., & Hernández-Expósito, S. (2019). A comparative study of language phenotypes in autism spectrum disorder and specific language impairment. Psicothema, 31(4), 437-442.
  • Riches, N. (2013). Treating the passive in children with specific language impairment: A usage based approach. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 29(2), 155-169.
  • Semel, E., Wiig, E., & Secord, W. (2006). Clinical evaluation of language fundamentals CELF-4. Psychological Corporation.
  • Smith, K., Leitao, S., Lambert, S., & Nickels, L. (2013a). Effective intervention for expressive grammar in children with specific language impairment. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 48(3), 265-282.
  • Smith, K., Leitao, S., Lambert, L., Prior, P., Dunn, A., Cronje, J., Newhouse, S., & Nickels, L. (2013b). Daily or weekly? The role of treatment frequency in the effectiveness of grammar treatment for children with specific language impairment. International Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 15(3), 255-267.
  • Stanton-Chapman, T., Walker, V., Voorhees, M., & Snell, M. (2016). The evaluation of a three-tier model of positive behavior interventions and supports for preschoolers in Head Start. Remedial and Special Education, 37(6), 333-344.