Spanish-English Children with SLI

In comparison to English Speaking Children with SLI

What is SLI?

Specific Language Impairment

  • a language disorder whose underlying cause is not related to other disorders
  • suggested that there is a genetic component
  • only specific to language
  • hearing, intellectual, and motor skills are within normal limits; not affected
  • signs vary among children
What is SLI?

SLI among monolingual English speaking children

  • Clinical marker for SLI is morphosyntactics
  • "finite verb morphology ( the set of morphemes marking the grammatical feature tense, third person singular on the habitual present, past tense, copula and auxiliary of the verb"be" , auxiliary direct objects
  • difficulty with production of pronouns, definite articles, & plurals "
  • (Restrepo, M. A., & Kruth, K., 2000)

Question: Are these clinical markers / characteristics the same for Spanish-English speaking children with SLI?


Before we address clinical markers and characteristics for Spanish -English speaking children with SLI, we must first understand the characteristics of monolingual Spanish speakers with SLI.

Characteristics of Monolingual Spanish speaking children with SLI

  • "difficulty producing correct number and gender relations with articles"
  • difficulty with third person forms, singular forms
  • omit/substitute direct objects
  • can produce infinitive forms for finite verb forms, unlike their monolingual English speaking peers
  • (Bedore, L. M. & Leonard, L. B., 2001)
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Characteristics of Bilingual Spanish-English Speaking Children with SLI

  • "preposition errors, gender agreement errors between nouns and articles, and subject-verb agreement
  • substitution article and verb forms
  • omissions are a significant clinical marker for SLI
  • tend to omit tense bearing morphology and articles & direct objects"
  • (Restrepo, M. A., & Kruth, K., 2000)
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How do Spanish-English children compare to their monolingual English and monolingual Spanish speaking peers with SLI?

Monolingual English speaking children with SLI, monolingual Spanish speaking children with SLI, and bilingual Spanish-English speaking children with SLI all tend to have morphosyntactic difficulties in common; however deficits tend to be more severe in English.
Impairments tend to be relatively the same among in both the English and Spanish languages; however some differences include the clinical markers for SLI