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Purpose: In English and related languages, many preschool-age children with developmental language disorder (DLD) have difficulties using tense and agreement consistently. In this review article, we discuss two potential input-related sources of this difficulty and offer several possible strategies aimed at circumventing input obstacles. Method: We review a series of studies from English, supplemented by evidence from computational modeling and studies of other languages. Collectively, the studies show that instances of failures to express tense and agreement in DLD resemble portions of larger sentences in everyday input in which tense and agreement marking is appropriately absent. Furthermore, experimental studies show that children's use of tense and agreement can be swayed by manipulating details in fully grammatical input sentences. Results: The available evidence points to two particular sources of input that may contribute to tense and agreement inconsistency. One source is the appearance of subject + nonfinite verb sequences that appear in auxiliary-fronted questions (e.g., Is [the girl running]? Does [the boy like popcorn]?) and as dependent clauses in more complex sentences (e.g., Help [her wash the dishes]; We saw [the frog hopping]). The other source is the frequent appearance of bare stems in the input, whether nonfinite (e.g., go in Make him go fast) or finite (e.g., go in I go, you go). Conclusions: Although the likely sources of input are a natural part of the language that all children hear, procedures that alter the distribution of this input might be used in the early stages of intervention. Subsequent steps can incorporate more explicit comprehension and production techniques. A variety of suggestions are offered.


This is the publisher PDF of Leonard, L., Deevy, P., Bredin-Oja, S. L., Schroeder, M. L. (2023). Sources of misinterpretation in the input and their implications for language intervention with English-speaking children. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Published CC-BY by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, it is available at DOI: 10.1044/2023_AJSLP-23-00016.