Dr Anna Eva Hallin Seminar

Dr Anna Eva Hallin Seminar

Topic: Language processing and awareness in Swedish-speaking school-age children with and without developmental language disorder
Date: Monday, 26th February 2018, 2.00pm - 3.00pm
Venue: The Australian Hearing Hub, Level 3, Room 3.610, Macquarie University
Speaker: Dr Anna Eva Hallin, Division of Speech Language Pathology, Karolinska Institutet
Host: Distinguished Professor Katherine Demuth

Developmental language disorder (DLD) is less explored in school-age children than in younger children, particularly in languages other than English. Emergentist theorists emphasize effects of input frequency of words and morpho-syntactic patterns (lexical/structural frequency) on language processing. No studies have investigated frequency effects in morpho-syntactic error detection and correction, which are common measures of metalinguistic awareness. Aims: 1) Contribute to knowledge about DLD in Swedish-speaking school-age children, 2) Investigate effects of frequency on error detection and correction 3) Discuss the metalinguistic demands of these tasks.

4th-graders with DLD and typical development participated in error detection (NDLD=10, NTD=30) and error correction (nDLD=8, NTD=30) of ungrammatical sentences. A separate error repetition task was included as a control task (nTD=28). Target sentences contained morpho-syntactic errors that characterize young Swedish-speaking children with DLD (the infinitive form instead of past tense for regular and irregular verbs, and the omission of the indefinite article in common or neuter gender noun phrases). Target verbs and nouns were of either high or low frequency (HF/LF). Results showed that error detection in children with DLD included specific difficulties with the target errors compared to a plural/singular control error. For both groups, errors involving irregular verbs were more difficult to correct (but not to detect) than those involving regular verbs. LF verb errors were associated with fewer accurate detections/corrections for both groups but more accurate repetitions. Effects of lexical frequency were not seen for noun phrase errors, but the neuter article omission showed less accurate detections than the common article omission. Noun phrase errors were easier to correct than to detect for all children, and associated with lower accuracy in error repetition. The results indicate that error detection involves less explicit awareness than error correction and repetition. For error correction, LF words and verb errors seemed to involve more explicit awareness than HF words and noun phrase errors. The results support an emergentist view of language learning and processing, and may help explain the variability typically seen in the morpho-syntactic performance of children with DLD. Lexical frequency is important to consider when assessing grammatical/metalinguistic ability.

Anna Eva Hallin is a speech-language pathologist, researcher and lecturer based in Stockholm, Sweden. She earned her Ph.D. in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from New York University in 2016, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Division of Speech Language Pathology, Karolinska Institutet. Her clinical position is at R√∂stkonsulten Speech and Language Clinics where she also serves as the Director of research and evidence based practice. Dr Hallin’s research interests are in the areas of language learning, development and processing in school-age children, and in particular developmental language disorder and related neurodevelopmental disorders. More information can be found at https://annaevahallin.wordpress.com/.

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