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Keywords:

  • non-word repetition;
  • specific language impairment (SLI);
  • assessment;
  • phonological processes;
  • cross-linguistic

Abstract

Background

Non-word repetition (NWR) tasks have been found to correlate with language skills and to discriminate between groups of typically developing (TD) children and children with specific language impairment (SLI) across languages.

Aims

The main aim was to develop an easily-administered NWR screening test that could discriminate between Slovak-speaking TD children and children with SLI. The second aim was to establish if the novel scoring methods for NWR tasks were equally effective at differentiating between the TD versus SLI groups. As Slovak vowels are not reduced in unstressed syllables, it was also sought to establish whether scoring vowels (in addition to the consonants usually assessed in English language tests) would be informative.

Methods & Procedures

The paper evaluated the performance of a new NWR task for Slovak-speaking children. Study 1 compared the performance of 60 TD children in three age groups: 3-year-olds (N = 20), 4-your-olds (N = 20) and 5-year-olds (N = 20). Five types of scoring methods were examined: whole-item, number of syllables, syllable structure, consonants, and vowels. Study 2 compared performance on the NWR task administered in Study 1 across three groups of child participants: an SLI group (N = 16), a TD age-matched group (N = 16), and a TD language-matched group (N = 14).

Outcomes & Results

Study 1 found an age effect in the TD sample for three out of five of the scoring methods tested (number of syllables, syllable structure, and consonants). Study 2 showed that all five of the scoring methods discriminated between: (1) the group of children with SLI and the TD language-matched (TDLM) sample and (2) the group of children with SLI and the TD age-matched (TDAM) group.

Conclusions & Implications

The novel NWR tool reliably differentiated between children with SLI and TD children. Scoring cut-off points which demonstrated high rates of success at verifying true-positives (93.75%) and true-negatives (100%) are provided. The most informative scoring methods for Slavic languages (whole-item scoring and vowels correct) are identified and discussed.