Retelling stories: Grammatical and lexical measures for identifying monolingual spanish speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI)

Alejandra Auza B., Mary T Harmon, Chiharu Murata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) have grammatical and lexical difficulties when telling stories. The aim of this work was to explore whether language productivity measures, such as mean length of utterance (MLU), percentage of ungrammatical sentences (%UGS), total number of words (TNW), and number of different words (NDW) produced by young children during a story retell task, can be used to accurately differentiate monolingual Spanish-speaking children with SLI from children with typical language development (TLD). Fifty monolingual Spanish-speaking children between 4; 0 and 6; 11 years were assigned to one of two groups: 25 children with SLI and 25 TLD age-matched peers. A scripted picture book was read to each child and the child was subsequently asked to retell the story using pictures. Story retells were analyzed for MLU, %UGS, TNW, and NDW. Results showed significant differences between groups on all four measures. Children with SLI showed significantly lower MLU, TNW and NDW, and significantly higher%UGS when compared with age-matched peers with TLD. Results suggest that measures of language productivity obtained during story retells may be used to accurately detect differences in language performance and differentiate monolingual Spanish-speaking children with SLI from their typical peers. The findings from this study have clinical implications for assessment and identification of monolingual Spanish-speaking children with language impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Different number of words
  • MLU
  • Percentage of ungrammatical sentences
  • Spanish-speaking children
  • Specific language impairment
  • Story-retelling
  • Total number of words

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN

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