Language Sampling: Does the Length of the Transcript Matter? Purpose Language sample analysis is considered by many to be the gold standard for documenting children’s oral language skills. One limitation, however, is the time required for collection and transcription of language samples. The goal of this study was to determine if stable language sample measures could be generated using ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2010
Language Sampling: Does the Length of the Transcript Matter?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • John Heilmann
    University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
  • Ann Nockerts
    University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • Jon F. Miller
    University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • Contact author: John J. Heilmann, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201. E-mail: heilmanj@uwm.edu.
Article Information
Language Disorders / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2010
Language Sampling: Does the Length of the Transcript Matter?
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2010, Vol. 41, 393-404. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2009/09-0023)
History: Received March 31, 2009 , Revised August 15, 2009 , Accepted September 14, 2009
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2010, Vol. 41, 393-404. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2009/09-0023)
History: Received March 31, 2009; Revised August 15, 2009; Accepted September 14, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 32

Purpose Language sample analysis is considered by many to be the gold standard for documenting children’s oral language skills. One limitation, however, is the time required for collection and transcription of language samples. The goal of this study was to determine if stable language sample measures could be generated using relatively short language samples.

Method Measures were generated from children’s conversational and narrative language samples after they were broken into three lengths (1-, 3-, and 7-min samples). The measures were compared to determine the stability of measures from the short samples (1 and 3 min) when compared to measures from the long sample (7 min). The measures were further analyzed to determine if differences across transcript cuts varied as a function of age group (2;8 [years;months]–5;11 vs. 6;0–13;3) or sampling context (conversation vs. narrative).

Results Overall, the language sample measures were quite consistent across the transcript cuts. Measures of productivity, lexical diversity, and utterance length were the most reliable when short samples were used.

Conclusion Implications for the efficient use of language sample analysis in clinical protocols are discussed. A framework for eliciting reliable short samples is provided.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We would like to thank members of the Madison Metropolitan Public School SALT–LSA Group for many years of collaboration that have made the acquisition of these databases possible. Our gratitude is also extended to the CESA–9 LSA group for collecting samples from children in northern Wisconsin. We would also like to thank Karen Andriacchi and all of the past and present members of the Language Analysis Lab who have been dedicated to accurately transcribing and efficiently organizing all of the language samples.
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