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J Speech Lang Hear Res. 1997 Dec;40(6):1285-97.

Learning a new poem: memory for connected speech and phonological awareness in low-income children with and without specific language impairment.

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  • 1Speech and Hearing Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington 47401, USA.


This research examined rote memory for connected speech in low-income children with and without specific language impairment (SLI). Sixteen children with SLI were matched to 16 typically developing children on nonverbal cognition and 16 younger, typically developing peers on language measures. The children learned a new poem under four presentation conditions: with or without accompanying hand motions related to the poem or with or without a simple melody. Compared with their cognitive and language peers, children with SLI had significantly more difficulty learning the poem under all presentation conditions. Furthermore, when asked to recite the poem after a 2-day delay, the performance of the children with SLI was significantly better in the poem with accompanying hand motions condition. It appears that learning the poem with an additional modality aids recall for children with SLI. Phonological awareness task findings revealed that all the children had difficulty with such tasks. However, compared with the children in the cognitive-matched peer group, the children with SLI and their language-matched peers had significantly more difficulty finding pairs of words that rhymed or words that began with the same initial sound. Intervention issues and the relationship between phonological processing and serial memory in children with SLI are discussed.

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