Spoken verb learning in children with language disorder

Cheyenne Svaldi, Saskia Kohnen, Serje Robidoux, Kim Vos, Aliene Reinders, Sudha Arunachalam, Roel Jonkers, Vânia de Aguiar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study examined spoken verb learning in elementary school children with language disorder (LD). We aimed to replicate verb learning deficits reported in younger children with LD and to examine whether verb instrumentality, a semantic factor reflecting whether an action requires an instrument (e.g., “to chop” is an instrumental verb), influenced verb learning. The possible facilitating effect of orthographic cues presented during training was also evaluated. In an exploratory analysis, we investigated whether language and reading skills mediated verb learning performance. General language skills and verb learning were assessed in Dutch children with LD and age-matched typically developing controls (n = 25 per group) aged 8 to 12 years (M = 9;9 [years;months], SD = 1;3). Using video animations, children learned 20 nonwords depicting actions comprising 10 instrumental and 10 noninstrumental verbs. Half of the items were trained with orthographic information present. Verb learning was assessed using an animation–word matching and animation naming task. Linear mixed-effects models showed a main effect of group for all verb learning measures, demonstrating that children with LD learned fewer words and at a slower rate than the control group. No effect of verb instrumentality, presence of orthographic information, or the included mediators was found. Our results emphasize the importance of continued vocabulary instruction in elementary school to strengthen verb encoding. Given that our findings are inconsistent with the overall literature showing an orthographic facilitation effect, future studies should investigate whether participants pay attention to the written word form in learning contexts with moving stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105881
JournalJournal of experimental child psychology
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Language disorder
  • Orthographic facilitation
  • Verb instrumentality
  • Verb learning
  • Vocabulary acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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