Systematic language input improved productions of elaborated verb phrases of Cantonese-speaking children with language difficulties

Dustin Kai-Yan Lau, Tempo Po-Yi Tang, Christy Choi-Yan Wong, Teresa Siu-Kwan Yau, Iris Hang-Ching Lam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


It has been well-documented that language input designed according to the principles of statistical learning can promote language acquisition among children with or without language disorder. Cantonese-speaking children with language disorder were reported to have difficulties using expanded verb phrases and prepositional phrases, but the corresponding intervention is relatively unexplored. The current study evaluated the efficacy of an intervention designed using the statistical learning principles to promote the acquisition of these two structures. A retrospective study of existing data collected from a total of 16 Cantonese-speaking children (four female; mean age = 6.70 years) with suspected language disorder was conducted. The participants were initially divided into the ‘Treatment’ and the ‘Control’ groups. A total of eight sessions of language treatment, which focused on giving systematic language input of expanded verb phrases and prepositional phrases, were conducted on each child. Results showed that the Treatment group produced significantly more expanded verb phrases in the post-treatment language samples, while the Control group did not. The final pre- and post-comparison conducted after the Control group also received treatment indicated overall significant increased number of expanded verb phrases produced across time. On the contrary, improvement in the production of prepositional phrases was not significant. It is suggested that the unique thematic roles coded by individual prepositions possibly restricted the generalisation effect of treatment, which explains the non-significant improvement across time. Theoretical and clinical implications were discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473–490
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number4-6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023


  • Language difficulties
  • language intervention
  • Cantonese
  • elaborated verb phrases
  • prepositional phrases


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