The purpose of this experiment, conducted with second-grade children (mean age: 7;8), was to examine the hypothesis that less skilled comprehenders in a reading situation suffer an impairment in spoken language comprehension and, more specifically, in the on-line processing of anaphoric pronouns. Skilled and less skilled comprehenders performed a cross-modal naming task investigating the effects of pronoun gender and pragmatic inference from the verb on the integration of two successive sentences. Results revealed different patterns of effects in the two groups. The skilled comprehenders integrated on-line sentences by relying on pronoun gender and verb meaning. Pronoun gender appeared to exert a dominant influence relative to verb bias. In the less skilled comprehenders, on-line integration was not systematic, being dependent on the meaning of the verb and the proximity of the referent. Complementary analyses revealed similar patterns of effects among less skilled comprehenders, whether they were good decoders or poor decoders. These results show that less skilled comprehenders are developmentally delayed compared with their skilled peers, and extend the language impairment hypothesis to cover discourse-level processes.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 4, 2005
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