Investigation of the language tasks to include in a short-language measure for children in the early school years

Jessica Matov, Fiona Mensah, Fallon Cook, Sheena Reilly
2018 International journal of language and communication disorders  
The inaccurate estimation of language difficulties by teachers suggests the benefit of a short-language measure that could be used to support their decisions about who requires referral to a speech-language therapist. While the literature indicates the potential for the development of a short-language measure, evidence is lacking about which combination of language tasks it should include. Aims: To understand the number and nature of components/language tasks that should be included in a
more » ... anguage measure for children in the early school years. Methods & Procedures: Eight language tasks were administered to participants of the Early Language in Victoria Study (ELVS) at ages 5 (n = 995) and 7 (n = 1217). These included six language tasks measured by an omnibus language measure (which comprised a direction-following, morphologicalcompletion, sentence-recall, sentence-formation, syntactic-understanding and word-association task) and a non-word repetition and a receptive vocabulary task, measured by two task-specific language measures. Scores were analyzed using principal component analysis (PCA), the Bland and Altman method, and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Outcomes & Results: PCA revealed one main component of language that was assessed by all language tasks. The most effective combination of two tasks that measured this component was a direction-following and a sentence-recall task. It showed the greatest agreement with an omnibus language measure and exceeded the criterion for good discriminant accuracy (sensitivity = 94%, specificity = 91%, accuracy = 91%, at 1 SD (standard deviation) below the mean). Conclusions & Implications: Findings support the combination of a direction-following and a sentence-recall task to assess language ability effectively in the early school years. The results could justify the future production of a novel short-language measure comprising a direction-following and a sentence-recall task to use as a screening tool in schools and to assess language ability in research participants.
doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12378 pmid:29457324 fatcat:wylkpr7fdnf6zpkwtct5u3lcoq