Monthly Archives: October 2008

The Role of Learning Environment in the Development of Pragmatic Comprehension

from Studies in Second Language Acquisition

This study examines the role of environment in the development of pragmatic comprehension. It tracks two groups of Japanese students of English: 60 students in a college in Japan (English as a foreign language [EFL] learners) and 57 students in a college in the United States (English as a second language [ESL] learners). The learners completed a computerized listening task that measured their ability to comprehend two types of implied meaning: indirect refusals (k = 24) and indirect opinions (k = 24). The task was given to each group twice, before and after the students received approximately 120–130 hr of classroom instruction. Comprehension was analyzed for accuracy (scores) and speed (average time taken to answer each item correctly). Results showed that, in both learner groups, accuracy and comprehension speed improved significantly over time. For the EFL group, the magnitude of effect was much less for speed than for accuracy. In contrast, ESL learners showed significant improvement in comprehension speed, with a sizable effect size, but only marginal improvement in accuracy.


Baby talk: The roots of the early vocabulary in infants’ learning from speech


Although babies typically start talking around 12 months of age, their brains actually begin processing certain aspects of language much earlier, so that by the time they start talking, babies actually already know hundreds of words. While studying language acquisition in infants can be a challenging endeavor, researchers have begun to make significant progress that changes previous views of what infants learn, according to a new report by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Daniel Swingley. The report, published in the October issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, describes an increasing emphasis among researchers in studying vocabulary development in infants.

Intensive dynamic temporal and tactile cueing appears effective for treating some children with severe childhood apraxia of speech

from Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention

No abstract available.

Effects of syllable preparation and syllable frequency in speech production: Further evidence for syllabic units at a post-lexical level

from Language and Cognitive Processes

In the current paper, we asked at what level in the speech planning process speakers retrieve stored syllables. There is evidence that syllable structure plays an essential role in the phonological encoding of words (e.g., online syllabification and phonological word formation). There is also evidence that syllables are retrieved as whole units. However, findings that clearly pinpoint these effects to specific levels in speech planning are scarce. We used a naming variant of the implicit priming paradigm to contrast voice onset latencies for frequency-manipulated disyllabic Dutch pseudo-words. While prior implicit priming studies only manipulated the item’s form and/or syllable structure overlap we introduced syllable frequency as an additional factor. If the preparation effect for syllables obtained in the implicit priming paradigm proceeds beyond phonological planning, i.e., includes the retrieval of stored syllables, then the preparation effect should differ for high- and low frequency syllables. The findings reported here confirm this prediction: Low-frequency syllables benefit significantly more from the preparation than high-frequency syllables. Our findings support the notion of a mental syllabary at a post-lexical level, between the levels of phonological and phonetic encoding.

WWHearing – Worldwide Hearing Care for Developing Countries

from Audiological Medicine

This Article does not have an abstract.

Actions in vocal health: a proposal for improving the vocal profile of teachers

from Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica

BACKGROUND: several authors have pointed to the urgent need of researches and actions involving teachers, in the school environment, that have a preventive and vocal health promotion character with the purpose of improving work conditions.
AIM: to analyze the vocal complaints, laryngeal symptoms, vocal habits and vocal profile of teachers of a public school before and after their participation in voice workshops.
METHOD: the study was divided in different steps: 1st step – closed interview, larynx and perceptive-auditory assessment in which 42 teachers were evaluated; 2nd step – voice workshops; 3rd step – perceptive-auditory reassessment in which 13 teachers were evaluated.
RESULTS: 73% of the subjects presented vocal complaints; 57.14% presented mild to moderate hoarseness, 78.57% presented breathiness and 52.38% vocal tension. Evaluation of the larynx indicated that 75.86% of the subjects presented glottal gaps and 34.48% mucous thickening. After the voice workshops a significant difference was observed in the level of vocal tension, both in the analysis of the /e/ vowel and in the analysis of Spontaneous Speech (p = 0.0277 for p > 0.05 for both). Improvement was observed in vocal care and in the understanding of intervening and determinant factors for vocal alterations, which are present in the teaching environment.
CONCLUSION: health actions, such as voice workshops, are important to trigger changes in the work environment as well as in the health of teachers.

Development of autistic children based on maternal responses to the autism behavior checklist

from Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica

BACKGROUND: language and speech-language intervention.
AIM: to evaluate the development process of autistic children, in a direct and indirect intervention context based on the responses of mothers to the Autism Behavior Checklist.
METHOD: the research sample consisted of 11 mothers of children diagnosed, according to the criteria established by the DSM IVtr (APA, 2002), with autism (six) and with Asperger Syndrome (five) and who were seen at the Investigation Laboratory of Global Developmental Disorders of the Federal University of São Paulo. These children were randomly divided into two groups: Six were receiving both direct and indirect intervention (TG), and five were receiving indirect intervention exclusively (OG). The Autism Behavior Checklist (Krug et al., 1993) was used, adapted to the Portuguese language by Marteleto (2003). This behavior checklist (57 items) allows the detailed description of non-adaptable characteristics regarding the following areas: sensory, use of the body and object, Language, Psycho-social and Relational. The questionnaire was filled in during an interview on three occasions: at the beginning of intervention, after six months and at the end of 12 months.
RESULTS: after statistical analysis it was observed that there was a greater development in the total scores and in the areas of language, psycho-social and relational for the TG. This suggests a greater development pattern during the studied period for this group.
CONCLUSION: the mothers of both groups observed behavioral changes. The better scores observed for the TG is probably related to the effectiveness of direct intervention, and not to the lack of attention of parents in the OG in recognizing behavioral changes in their children.

Intelligibility measurements in speech disorders: a critical review of the literature

from Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica

BACKGROUND: the reduction in speech intelligibility is considered one of the main characteristics of individuals with speech disorders, and is an important issue for clinical and research investigation. In spite of its relevance, the literature does not present a consensus on how to measure speech intelligibility. Besides the diversity of existent methods, another important issue refers to the influence of certain variables on these measurements and, consequently, on the interpretation of the results.
AIM: to investigate evidence on the agreement between speech intelligibility measurements, obtained through different methods, used in the assessment of speech disorders, and to identify the effect of variables related to assessment procedures or to the listener. A critical review of articles indexed in the databases Medline, Web of Science, Lilacs and Scielo, until October 2007, was carried out. The key-word used to perform the search was speech intelligibility.
CONCLUSION: there was no evidence of agreement between the speech intelligibility measurements obtained through different methods in the investigated literature. This fact limits the comparison between clinic and research results on speech intelligibility of individuals with speech disorders. Besides that, it was observed that some variables can interfere in these measurements, such as: type of task and speech stimulus, signal presentation mode, type of required answer and listener’s experience with the speaker. These must be considered when interpreting the results of speech intelligibility tests.

A comparison study of the orthographics mistakes of students with inferior and students with average writing performance

from Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to verify whether children with poor writing performances make more orthographic mistakes than children of the same school grade with average performances, and what are the most frequent types of orthographic mistakes.
METHODS: Twenty-four second grade children from a public school were individually analyzed in this study. The test used was the writing subtest of the School Performance Test, which is composed by 34 words that are dictated to the students.
RESULTS: Students with lower performances had significantly more orthographic mistakes than the group of children with average writing performances. The mistakes that were statistically different between children of the two groups were: hypercorrection mistakes, difficulties with nasal markers, irregular phonographemic relation, syllable omission, and letter changes. There was also a strongly negative correlation between orthographic mistakes and writing performance.
CONCLUSION: The results showed that the better the writing performance, the lesser the orthographic mistakes made by the subjects. The most frequent mistakes made by children with poor writing skills were: irregular phonographemic relation, syllable omission, difficulties with nasal markers, hypercorrection errors and letter changes. These types of mistakes were different from the average student; however, the orthographic performance tends to improve with the improvement of the children’s learning capacity.

Adhesion to speech therapy according to the view of orthodontists and pediatric dentists

from Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

PURPOSE: To verify the perception of orthodontists and pediatric dentists from Belo Horizonte and Itabira concerning adhesion to speech therapy.
METHODS: A transversal study was carried out by using a questionnaire with 30 orthodontists and 30 pediatric dentists, half from each city. Statistical analysis used the Chi-square test.
RESULTS: The entire group of professional considered speech therapy important and reported to frequently refer their patients to this practice. From the sample, 58.3% of the professionals reported that their patients sometimes need speech therapy; 46.7% informed that sometimes patients also look for a speech therapist, and 70.0% have a trustworthy speech therapist to whom they usually refer patients to. It was verified that 85% of the sample informed that they do not work with speech therapists in the same work environment, and 85% believe that sharing the same space would increase the adhesion to therapy. To 75%, the patients’ referral is usually carried out after the evaluation, and 83.3% informed that patients do not look for treatment due to lack of time, although 86.7% affirmed that patients with good financial condition usually do adhere to speech therapy. The referrals are usually made for the same reason, except in cases regarding malocclusions. In the other questions, no differences were found between pediatric dentists and orthodontists or between cities.
CONCLUSION: The professionals interviewed deal with a trustworthy speech therapist and judge that sharing the same work environment is important to increase patients’ adhesion to treatment. The patients’ referrals are usually made right after the odontological evaluation, and lack of time is the main reason why they do not look for a speech therapist, although patients with good financial situation easily adhere to treatment. Referrals are usually made because of the same reasons.

Aging, voice and physical activity of teachers and non-teachers

from Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

PURPOSE: To compare the voices of elderly subjects, teachers and non-teachers, and to verify the relationship between their voices and the variables chronological age and period of time practicing physical activity.
METHODS: It was carried out the perceptive-auditory analysis of the vocal parameters of 47 subjects, male and female, who were older than 65 years. Twenty three subjects were teachers (GT) and 24 were non-teachers (GNT). The results of this analysis were tested for statistical correlation with the variables chronological age and amount of physical activity practice (in time).
RESULTS: In the GT, there was a significant negative correlation between chronological age and loudness variation (p=0,042). In the GNT it was found significant negative correlations between chronological age and speech rate (p=0,038) and between period of physical activity practice and voice quality deviations (p=0,031).
CONCLUSIONS: There were no statistical differences among the vocal parameters of both groups. For the GP, it was observed that the higher the chronological age, the lesser the loudness variation. For the GNP, the higher the chronological age, the lesser the speech rate. A longer period of physical activity practice was correlated to a voice with lesser quality deviations, only for the GNP.

Analysis of orthographic errors of children with cochlear implants

from Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

The aim the present collective case-study was to analyze the orthographic errors of elementary school children with cochlear implants. Four children who became deaf in the pre-lingual period were selected. All subjects started using hearing aids and began speech therapy before 18 months of age and had their cochlear implant surgery between 42 and 54 months. Using an orthographic observation script for dictations and compositions, the errors were classified, quantified, registered and then analyzed. The four categories with the highest incidence of orthographic errors were: voiced x unvoiced phonemes, multiple representations, omission of letters, and “others”. All subjects had a much higher incidence of errors in activities involving dictation, in comparison to composition activities, suggesting that, in orthographic terms, dictation was more difficult than composition. The highest incidence of errors was related to acoustic and articulatory patterns, metalinguistic skills of phonological, lexical and morphosyntactic awareness, and other aspects linked to language and pronunciation. Among the reasons why the errors in dictation activities were higher is the fact that, during these activities, children tend to show lower ability of self-correction. Another important reason is related to the frequency effect and the restrict words repertoire due to the language delay. In general, this study identified approaches to help the speech-language therapist to better understand the written production of students with cochlear implants.

Conflict resolution abilities and normal disfluencies in normally developing children

from Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

PURPOSE: The aims of this study were: (1) to investigate conflict resolution (CR) abilities in normally developing school-aged children; (2) to verify whether there is a relationship between the occurrence of normal disfluencies (ND) and the development of conflict resolution abilities.
METHODS: Twenty normally developing children, whose ages ranged between seven and ten, participated in this study. The participants underwent a language screening test, covering the following aspects: phonology, phonological awareness abilities, reading and writing skills. Those who performed within the expected for their chronological ages were assessed through a CR test and a fluency test. The answers given in the CR test were grouped into 28 categories and then scored. In the fluency test the occurrence of normal disfluencies (ND) was verified.
RESULTS: The participants scored from 5 to 14 points (M=10,7) in the CR test, nevertheless it was not observed any correlation between final scores in that test and chronological age (p=0,361). In the fluency test, the occurrence of ND varied from 4 to 24 (M=10). It was not noticed any statistically significant correlation between the performance in the CR test and the occurrence of ND (p=0,899).
CONCLUSIONS: In the CR test, in order to solve the conflict, children used mainly unilateral strategies. It was also observed that the strategies did not improve with age. Regarding the comparison between the performance in the CR test and the occurrence of ND, it was not possible to establish direct relationship between these variables

Deaf children’s pragmatic profile in different linguistic phases

from Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to ascertain and to assess the interference of deaf children’s linguistic level in their communicative abilities.
METHODS:Thirty deaf children participated in this study, 15 in the pre-linguistic phase and 15 in the linguistic phase, independent of the communicative modality used – either oral or sign language. Their age ranged from 41 to 59 months. Thirty videotape recordings of the deaf children’s communicative abilities assessment during their interaction with the examiner were analyzed. The Communicative Abilities Pragmatic Profile was used in order to identify the communicative abilities and their frequency of occurrence.
RESULTS: Both groups basically presented the same communicative abilities; however, the linguistic group presented higher frequency of occurrence, especially in the abilities regarding communicative intentions and responses for communication.
CONCLUSIONS:There is a direct relationship between linguistic complexity (independent of any kind of modality) and the deaf child’s communicative profile, that is, the linguistic level child presents higher frequency of occurrence of more complex and elaborated communicative abilities.

Monozygotic twins – hidden aspects of family speech

from Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

PURPOSE: Families with monozygotic twin children have some typical practices which begin in early pregnancy and persist during the childhood, including wearing the same clothes and colors, choosing phonetically similar names and offering the same food and sleeping patterns. The purpose of this study was to follow-up, prospectively, one family with identical twins, analyzing the influence of assumptions and social practices expressed in their discourse on the language development and the construction process of each child’s identity, from the diagnosis of monozygotic twin pregnancy.
METHODS: The study is based on the naturalist/observational approach, the historic-cultural perspective and the indiciary paradigm. Eight interviews were video recorded every three months since the diagnosis of identical twin pregnancy in one family, and information regarding the following categories were analyzed: the announcement of pregnancy, choice of names, clothes, family interaction, general routine, language and identity of each child.
RESULTS: All analyzed categories were referred by the family during the interviews, and revealed their difficulty in assimilating the presence of two different children, who end up being seen as one child.
CONCLUSION: The social aspects that come along with the similarities of monozygotic twins are remarkable enough to overcome and change its influence on these children’s processes of language and identity development. The Speech-Language Pathology has an important role to support these families in the context of their beliefs and values, so that the intervention, when necessary, is effective.