45th International Philological Research Conference

Assessing Narrative Language in Preschoolers: From Group Analysis to Individual Profile

Ингрида Балчюниене
Санкт-Петербургский государственный педиатрический медицинский университет
Александр Николаевич Корнев
Санкт-Петербургский государственный педиатрический медицинский университет

15:00 - 15:30

Ключевые слова, аннотация

The presentation deals with the main linguistic and structural limitations typical for Russian-speaking specifically language-impaired (SLI) preschool children. The study is based on a dynamic approach to narrative assessment developed by the authors of the presentation. The results evidenced an impact of the story mode, story complexity, and task order on a narrative structure and language. The findings are important for speech/language therapists as a basis for diagnosing narrative language impairment and for selecting the speech therapy targeting individual linguistic limitations.


Intervention in specifically language-impaired (SLI) children needs efficient and ecologically valid diagnostic tools. Narrative analysis could serve as such a tool for a number of reasons. First, oral narratives represent a good sample for structured communication evaluation [1]; second, narrative skills can be informative predictor for written language acquisition and literacy development [2]; finally, narrative may also prove to be a good tool for distinguishing language disordered groups [3].
Our aim was to pilot Russian Assessment Instrument for Narratives (RAIN) [4] developed on the basis of the MAIN [5] in the SLI Russian-speaking preschoolers. The subjects of the research were 12 clinically-referred monolingual 6-year old SLI children and 12 typically-developing (TD) peers. Each subject performed two tasks, i.e. storytelling and retelling according wordless picture sequences. The order of tasks was counterbalanced with regard to narrative mode (telling vs. retelling) and story complexity (less complex vs. more complex story). All the stories were video-recorded, transcribed, and morphologically coded for automatic linguistic and statistical analysis.
Results of the study evidenced that the RAIN enables a researcher to compare narrative language of Russian-speaking children in balanced telling and retelling conditions controlled for narrative complexity, task order and priming effect. Retelling procedure had the most discrimination ability (F=6.4; P<0.016). For narrative structure, significant determinant was «Story» (F=5.3; P<0.028) which interacted with «Group» (F=10.5; P<0.003). From the perspective narrative language, SLI children were significantly backward in syntactic complexity (F=10; P<0.01) and lexical diversity (F=15.6; P<0.003). Moreover, by means of z-scoring analysis, a group profile of narrative language in TD and individual profiles of narrative language in SLI population were constructed. The latter is crucial not only for diagnosing language impairment but also for selecting speech therapy targeting individual linguistic limitations.

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[4] Kornev A.N., Balčiūnienė I. 2014: Narrative analysis as the SLI assessment tool. Early Prevention in Children with Verbal Communication Disorders, 49–58. [5] Gagarina N. et al. 2012: MAIN: Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives. Berlin: ZAS.