A narrative evaluation of mandarin-speaking children with language impairment

Ying Hao, Li Sheng, Yiwen Zhang, Fan Jiang, Jill De Villiers, Wendy Lee, Xueman Lucy Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: We aimed to study narrative skills in Mandarin-speaking children with language impairment (LI) to compare with children with LI speaking Indo-European languages. Method: Eighteen Mandarin-speaking children with LI (mean age 6;2 [years;months]) and 18 typically developing (TD) age controls told 3 stories elicited using the Mandarin Expressive Narrative Test (de Villiers & Liu, 2014). We compared macrostructure-evaluating descriptions of characters, settings, initiating events, internal responses, plans, actions, and consequences. We also studied general microstructure, including productivity, lexical diversity, syntactic complexity, and grammaticality. In addition, we compared the use of 6 fine-grained microstructure elements that evaluate particular Mandarin linguistic features. Results: Children with LI exhibited weaknesses in 5 macrostructure elements, lexical diversity, syntactic complexity, and 3 Mandarin-specific, fine-grained microstructure elements. Children with LI and TD controls demonstrated comparable performance on 2 macrostructure elements, productivity, grammaticality, and the remaining 3 fine-grained microstructure features. Conclusions: Similarities and differences are noted in narrative profiles of children with LI who speak Mandarin versus those who speak Indo-European languages. The results are consistent with the view that profiles of linguistic deficits are shaped by the ambient language. Clinical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-359
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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