An evaluation of the written texts of children with SLI:
the contributions of oral language, reading
and phonological short-term memory
Clare J. Mackie
Published online: 14 July 2012
Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012
Abstract In this study, we performed a ﬁne grained analysis of writing by children
with a speciﬁc language impairment (SLI) and examined the contribution of oral
language, phonological short-term memory (STM), nonverbal ability, and word
reading to three writing constructs (productivity, complexity and accuracy). Forty-
six children with SLI were compared with 42 children matched for chronological
age, receptive vocabulary (N = 46) and reading decoding (N = 46) on a measure of
narrative writing. The SLI group performed worse on all measures compared to
children of a similar chronological age. The SLI group produced a greater pro-
portion of orthographic spelling errors than children with similar receptive vocab-
ularies, but were comparable to children matched for reading decoding. The
children with SLI showed speciﬁc difﬁculties in the omission of whole words (e.g.
auxiliary verbs and subject nouns) and omissions of grammatical morphology (e.g.
past tense—ed) reﬂecting the difﬁculties shown in their oral language. Receptive
grammar made a signiﬁcant contribution to writing complexity and accuracy.
Phonological ﬂuency contributed to writing productivity, such as the production of
diverse vocabulary, ideas and content and writing ﬂuency. Phonological STM and
word reading explained additional variance in writing accuracy over and above the
SLI group’s oral language skills.
C. J. Mackie (&)
Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Addictions Department, Institute of Psychiatry,
KCL, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF, UK
Psychology and Human Development Department, Institute of Education,
University of London, London, UK
Centre for Development, Appraisal and Education, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
Read Writ (2013) 26:865–888