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Communicative intents in French-speaking children (Sylvestre et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-01-12, 19:41 authored by Audette Sylvestre, Mélissa Di Sante, Jean Leblond

Purpose: This study aimed to (a) provide speech-language pathologists and researchers with a play-based procedure to measure the expression of spoken communicative intents by children aged 3 to 4.5 years and (b) present indicators of these children’s capacity to produce these intents in this context.

Method: A method inspired by TRIAGE (Technique de Recherche d’Informations par Animation d’un Group d’Experts) allowed an advisory group of 16 speech-language pathologists to select and agree on definitions of intents to include in this procedure, among a set of 13 preselected intents based on the scientific literature. A longitudinal design including four measuring times was used to verify the production of these intents by 99 French-speaking children (46 boys; Mage = 36.09 months) at 36, 42, 48, and 54 months using the Neighborhood Game, a previously developed elicitation procedure of communicative intents conducted within the context of symbolic play. For each measurement time, the average percentage of children who had produced each intent at least 3 times was calculated with a 95% confidence interval. Nonparametric analysis of variance for longitudinal data was carried out to verify progression with age.

Results: A finalized list of eight communicative intents was selected along with their definition and a standardized script to elicit them during symbolic play. The production frequency of most intents showed significant progression between the first and the fourth measurement time. Arguing is the only intent that is still not produced by more than 90% of children at the age of 54 months.

Conclusions: This study led to the development of an assessment procedure, which presents ecological validity and elicits the expression of eight communicative intents among 3- to 4.5-year-olds. This procedure can support the work of speech-language pathologists and researchers. The accompanying indicators of children’s capacity to produce these intents at a given age in this kind of context are a notable addition to the knowledge on typical language development.

Supplemental Material S1. The Neighborhood Game Coding Sheet. 

Sylvestre, A., Di Sante, M., & Leblod, J. (2023). Spoken communicative intents among 3- to 4.5-year-old French-speaking children: Procedure and data from the Early Longitudinal Language and Neglect study. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_JSLHR-22-00003


This research was supported by a grant from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Insight Grant 435-2014-2109) awarded to Audette Sylvestre, Caroline Bouchard, Robert Pauzé, and Chantal Mérette.