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The nature and causes of children's grammatical difficulties: Evidence from an intervention to improve past tense marking in children with down syndrome

Baxter, R; Rees, R; Perovic, A; Hulme, C; (2022) The nature and causes of children's grammatical difficulties: Evidence from an intervention to improve past tense marking in children with down syndrome. Developmental Science , 25 (4) , Article e13220. 10.1111/desc.13220. Green open access

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Abstract

Children with language learning difficulties frequently display problems learning grammar. One such group are children with Down syndrome. This study evaluates the effectiveness of an intervention to teach the use of the regular simple past tense to children with Down syndrome. Trained teaching assistants delivered the intervention for 20 minutes per day for 10 weeks. We conducted a Randomised Controlled Trial, with a waiting list control design in which the Intervention group (N = 26) received the intervention immediately, while the delayed intervention group (N = 26) received the intervention later. Immediately following the intervention, the intervention group showed significantly larger gains in the use of regular simple past tense forms (d = 1.63 on a composite measure of simple past tense formation) as well as generalisation to verbs not explicitly taught. In addition, following the intervention children made overregularisation errors by incorrectly using regular simple past tense marking for irregular verbs; such errors support the claim that children had acquired generative knowledge underlying past tense marking. The delayed intervention control group showed identical benefits from the intervention when they received it, and the gains shown by the intervention group were maintained at follow up testing. This study shows that children with Down syndrome, who display severe language difficulties can be taught to use simple past tense marking. The theoretical and applied implications of these findings for understanding the nature, causes and treatments of children's language difficulties are discussed.

Type: Article
Title: The nature and causes of children's grammatical difficulties: Evidence from an intervention to improve past tense marking in children with down syndrome
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/desc.13220
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.13220
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: RCT, down syndrome, grammatical development, language intervention, past tense, teaching assistants
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10141112
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