Language comprehension and non-word repetition in children with language impairment

Birgitta Sahlén, Christine Reuterskiöld Wagner, Ulrika Nettelbladt, Karl Radeborg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Non-word repetition has, not without controversy, been considered a reliable index of phonological memory in children with language impairment (LI). Recent studies do, however, emphasize the strong link between non-word repetition skills and phonological output in pre-school children with LI. The purpose of the present study was to explore the relationship between non-word repetition and different aspects of language comprehension (comprehension of words, sentences and fables) in 27 children with LI. The results showed that non-word repetition signifcantly correlated with all measures of language comprehension in the children with LI. Partial correlations revealed a weaker relationship between vocabulary comprehension, comprehension of fables and non-word repetition than between non-word repetition and comprehension of grammar. A possible explanation for the findings may be that the tests assessing comprehension of grammar strained language processing and storage more than the other tests. It is concluded that non-word repetition cannot be considered to be a single, reliable index of phonological memory in pre-school children with LI. Non-word repetition incorporates a range of processes necessary for language comprehension and production, and thus mirrors the general language status of the child.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-380
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999



  • Language comprehension
  • Language impairment
  • Non-word repetition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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