Language assessment of monolingual and multilingual children using non-word and sentence repetition tasks

Stanislava Antonijevic-Elliott, Rena Lyons, Mary Pat O’ Malley, Natalia Meir, Ewa Haman, Natalia Banasik, Clare Carroll, Ruth McMenamin, Margaret Rodden, Yvonne Fitzmaurice

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11 Scopus citations


The number of children speaking more than one language as well as the number of languages spoken in Ireland has increased significantly posing a problem for timely identification of children with language disorder. The current study aims to profile performance of monolingual and multilingual children on language processing tasks: non-word repetition (NWR) and sentence repetition (SR). We used: (1) Crosslinguistic (CL) and English Language-Specific (LS) NWR and (2) SR in English, Polish and Russian. Children’s socioeconomic status, language emergence, the age of exposure (AoE) to English and the percentage of English spoken at home were recorded. The study included 88 children age 5–8 attending a school in a disadvantaged area. CL and LS NWR yielded similar distribution of scores for monolinguals and multilinguals. The tasks identified small number of children who performed significantly lower than the mean while there were no significant differences between the groups. In English SR, monolinguals significantly outperformed multilinguals. Comparison of SR in English and Polish/Russian indicated that some children showed balanced performance in both of their languages while others showed marked differences performing better in either Polish/Russian or English depending on their AoE to English and percentage of English spoken at home. The pilot study suggests that CL-NWR is a promising screening tool for identifying monolingual and multilingual children with language disorder while SR provides more detailed information on children’s language performance relative to their language exposure. SR task is recommended to be used only if comparable tasks are available in all of children’s languages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-311
Number of pages19
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020

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© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Language assessment
  • monolingualism
  • multilingualism
  • repetition tasks


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