Language and reading comprehension in Spanish-speaking children with DLD

Coloma, C. J., De Barbieri, Z., Quezada, C., Bravo, C., Chaf, G., & Araya, C. (2020). The impact of vocabulary, grammar and decoding on reading comprehension among children with SLI: a longitudinal study. Journal of Communication Disorders, 86, 106002.


Aim of the paper:


There is little research that studies the relationship between language problems and the development of reading skills over time, especially for children who speaks languages other than English. This paper looks into the development of reading skills from 2nd (age 7) to 4th grade (age 9) in Spanish-speaking children with and without DLD, and how their language performance relates to their reading comprehension.



What they found:


  • Children with DLD had poorer language performance in both 2nd and 4th grade when compared to children with typical language development. All children, including those with DLD, showed significant improvement in all language aspects from 2nd to 4th grade, except for grammar.


  • Decoding, vocabulary and sentence complexity predicted reading comprehension performance in 2nd grade children with DLD. Only vocabulary and sentence complexity predicted reading comprehension performance in 2nd grade children with typical language development.


  • Both vocabulary and sentence complexity in 2nd grade predicted reading comprehension performance in 4th grade in children with DLD. Only sentence complexity predicted reading comprehension in children with typical language development.



What does this mean?


The results suggest that vocabulary and sentence complexity have significant and consistent impact on the development of children’s reading comprehension. The paper also included other dimensions of language, such as decoding and grammar, but found only minor or even no impact on children’s reading comprehension.


Therefore, the authors propose that interventions that aim to improve reading comprehension for children with DLD should target vocabulary and sentence complexity due to their impact on the development of reading comprehension.



Where can I read this paper?


This paper is not open access. If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk and request a copy of the paper.