Children described as poor comprehenders (PCs) have reading comprehension difficulties in spite of adequate word reading abilities. PCs are known to display weakness with semantics and higher-level aspects of oral language, but less is known about their grammatical skills, especially with regard to morphosyntax. The purpose of this study was to examine morphosyntax in fourth grade PCs and typically developing readers (TDs), using three experimental tasks involving finiteness marking. Participants also completed standardized, norm-referenced assessments of phonological memory, vocabulary, and broader language skills. PCs displayed weakness relative to TDs on all three morphosyntax tasks and on every other assessment of oral language except phonological memory, as indexed by nonword repetition. These findings help to clarify the linguistic profile of PCs, suggesting that their language weaknesses include grammatical weaknesses that cannot be fully explained by semantic factors. Because finiteness markers are usually mastered prior to formal schooling in typical development, we call for future studies to examine whether assessments of morphosyntax could be used for the early identification of children at risk for future reading comprehension difficulty.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 1, 2015
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