Measures of Language Development in Fictional Narratives of Latino Children.

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Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools





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Purpose: This preliminary study was designed to determine whether commonly used measures of language productivity, sentence organization, and story structure were sensitive to developmental differences in narratives produced by Latino preschool children from a low-socioeconomic status (SES) community.

Method: Twenty-four children, divided equally into younger and older groups, produced oral narratives that corresponded with the wordless picture book, Frog, Where Are You? (Mayer, 1969). Their narratives were analyzed for productivity (total number of words, total number of different words), sentence organization (number of utterances, mean length of C unit in words, and percentage of grammatically acceptable utterances), and story structure (complete and incomplete narrative episodes).

Results: The length of children's narratives did not differ significantly by age. However, older Latino children produced stories that contained longer sentences, a higher proportion of grammatically acceptable sentences, and more complete episodes than did younger children.

Clinical Implications: These results suggest that measures of language productivity (such as total number of words and number of different words) that reflect developmental differences in monolingual mainstream preschoolers may not be sensitive indicators of narrative language development in young Latino children from low-SES environments. However, measures of syntactic accuracy and episodic structure are likely to be valid indicators of developmental changes in these children's narrative abilities.