Language Characteristics of Primary-Aged Students with Language Impairment
The term language learning disability (LLD), like specific language impairment and late talker, refers to a language impairment that does not stem from a cognitive deficit, a sensory impairment, a social deficit, or a gross neurological deficit (Paul, 2001). It also refers to difficulties in both language and learning. In other words, primary-aged students who exhibit LLD experience difficulties in acquiring reading and writing.
As in children with SLI, the language impairment in children with LLD can be expressed in the following areas of expressive language:
- Speaking. Students with LLD have difficulties in retelling stories or providing explanations, selecting and retrieving words, participating in classroom discussions and making relevant contributions to conversations, providing sufficient background information about a topic of conversation or indicating how ideas are related to the topic of conversation, and talking about events that occurred in the past.
- Writing. Students with LLD have difficulties writing well-formed and grammatically correct sentences, mapping letter-sound correspondences, and spelling.
Difficulties in the following areas of receptive language are expressed:
- Listening. Students with LLD have difficulties in following multistep directions, understanding others’ explanations, and gaining information presented via the auditory route, that is, auditory processing difficulties.
- Reading. Students with LLD have difficulties comprehending what they read, identifying and distinguishing between the most salient information in a story and the irrelevant information, connecting and sequencing ideas in stories, and using visual and contextual cues for understanding story lines.
Phonological Characteristics of Students with LLD
Children with LLD are usually intelligible. However, as preschoolers, they may have exhibited phonological deficits. These subtle, but lasting phonological deficits may underlie their reading difficulties during the early school years. School-age children with LLD have difficulties with tasks that require phonological awareness. This can be problematic, since phonological awareness is essential to achieving print literacy and also the best predictor of reading ability.
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