Online Article Comprehension in Monolingual Spanish-Speaking Preschoolers with Specific Language Impairment: A Language-Mediated Visual Attention Study

AbstractArticle production difficulties in Spanish-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) are well documented. However, evidence on article comprehension is scarce. In an eye tracking experiment, we compared online comprehension of definite and indefinite articles in monolingual Spanish-speaking children with SLI and children with typical language development (TLD) matched for age. Children listened to simple phrases while inspecting a visual context with four images. The article in the phrase agreed in number and gender with the target image only. Visual target preference was monitored as the phrase unfolded. Eye movements revealed that children with SLI showed a weak preference for the target on indefinite article trials only after hearing the noun, although no significant effects of definiteness were observed. In contrast, children with TLD were able to use the article to anticipate the noun. These findings contribute to reducing the gap between article production and comprehension in children with SLI.

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