Manipulating word properties: Targeting vocabulary learning for children with and without speech sound inaccuracies
McDowell, Kimberly D.
Carroll, Jeri A.
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McDowell K.D., and Carroll J. 2012. "Manipulating word properties: Targeting vocabulary learning for children with and without speech sound inaccuracies". Child Language Teaching and Therapy. 28 (1): 101-121.
The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to examine the relations between speech sound accuracy, vocabulary, and phonological awareness, and (2) to examine the effect of word properties of neighborhood density and phonotactic probability on word learning within a storybook context, for children with and without speech sound inaccuracies. Fifty K–1 children (aged 5–6 years; 25 with, 25 without speech sound inaccuracies) completed inclusionary measures of oral language, speech sound accuracy, hearing screening, oral–motor screening, and nonverbal intelligence. Participants completed study-specific measures of standardized receptive and expressive vocabulary, stimuli-specific vocabulary knowledge, and phonological awareness. Twice weekly, for 30 minutes, an 11-week storybook-based intervention took place, targeting word learning, with words selected based on density and probability. Storybooks were researcher generated to intentionally manipulate the word properties of the stimuli words. Each storybook contained two stimuli words, four exposures per word per reading. Results indicated that both speech sound accuracy and vocabulary predicted unique variance in phonological awareness in children with speech sound inaccuracies. No statistically significant differences in the absolute number of words children learned emerged. Group differences were noted in emerging word knowledge with typically developing children outperforming children with speech sound inaccuracies. Differences were noted in the types of words that children learned. Results suggest that children with speech sound inaccuracies may be at risk for later reading difficulties. Speech language pathologists need to be targeting words that promote change within a child’s phonological system (sublexical) and his/her lexical system.
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