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Music skills of Spanish-speaking children with developmental language disorder


Martínez-Castilla, P., Calet, N., & Jiménez-Fernández, G. (2023). Music skills of Spanish-speaking children with developmental language disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 140, 104575.

Key terms that are in this paper:

  • Temporal sampling theory: it says that DLD children’s poor language and music skills are related to problems with processing rhythm.

  • Prosodic-phrasing hypothesis: DLD children’s difficulties in processing rhythm and stress can cause problems in language understanding and production.

  • Syllable-timed language: languages where each syllable takes about the same amount of time. For example, Italian, French and Spanish.

  • Stress-timed language: languages where the stressed syllables appear at a steady rate. For example, English and German.

Aim of the paper:

Native speakers of stress-timed languages with DLD have poorer music skills. Studies found mixed and contradictory evidence on the music skills of DLD children who speaks a syllable-timed language. The present study aims to:

  1. Look at the music skills of Spanish-speaking children with DLD.

  2. Test the relationship between language and music skills of Spanish-speaking children.

What was found?

  • Spanish-speaking children with DLD had overall poorer music skills than typical developed children. This is the same for all ages.

  • When accounting for DLD, there were no differences between children’s abilities in the sub-tests of music skills. That is, melody, rhythm, and memory of music.

  • Both DLD and typical developed children had a strong link between their language and music skills.

What does this mean?

  • Children with DLD may have similar problems in musical skills in both stress-timed and syllable-timed languages.

  • With the help of music, children with DLD might be able to improve their language skills. Giving children with DLD music with clear structure, such as regular beats or stresses, may help them do better in grammar.

  • Future research could look into intervention based on music stimuli because it may can help improve DLD children’s language skills. For example, combining musical beats and lyrics in a song.

Where can I read this paper?

Summary written by Shimin Wang


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