Language learning of children with typical development using a deductive metalinguistic procedure

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Purpose: In the current study, the author aimed to determine whether 4- to 6-year-old typically developing children possess requisite problem-solving and language abilities to produce, generalize, and retain a novel verb inflection when taught using an explicit, deductive teaching procedure. Method: Study participants included a cross-sectional sample of 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old children with typical cognitive and language development. The 66 participants were randomly assigned to either a deductive or inductive teaching condition in which they were taught a novel gender morphological inflection across 4 sessions. Learning was assessed on the basis of performance on learning, generalization, and maintenance probes. Results: Across all age groups, children were more likely to successfully use the novel gender form when taught using the deductive procedure than if taught using the inductive procedure (Φ range:.33-.73). Analyses within each age group revealed a robust effect for the 5-year-old children, with less consistent effects across the other age groups. Conclusions: Study results suggest that 4- to 6-year-old children with typical language and cognitive abilities are able to make use of a deductive language teaching procedure when learning a novel gender inflection. Evidence also suggests that this effect is driven by expressive and receptive language ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-523
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


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