We compared the narrative production in Mandarin-speaking children at risk (AR) for developmental language disorder (DLD) and typically developing (TD) controls to address two goals: (a) further our understanding of the Mandarin DLD phenotype and (b) examine the role of elicitation method in differentiating AR from TD.


Twenty-one AR children and 21 age- and nonverbal IQ–matched peers produced two stories from the Multilingual Assessment Instrument of Narrative, first following an adult model (i.e., story-retell) and then without a model (i.e., story-tell). Group and task effects were analyzed on macrostructure and microstructure measures.


For general macrostructure score and sentence complexity, children in the AR group performed more poorly than TD children on the more challenging story-tell task and showed decreased scores from retell to tell tasks. In addition, children in the AR group showed poorer performance on number of different words. Productivity and grammaticality measures did not show group differences.


Consistent with previous findings, grammaticality and productivity were relatively preserved but story macrostructure, lexical diversity, and sentence complexity were vulnerable in Mandarin-speaking children with or AR for DLD. Having an adult model benefited both groups in sentence complexity and story macrostructure and potentially helped maintain the performance in TD children as they engaged in the more challenging story-telling task.



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