English past tense use as a clinical marker in older bilingual children with language impairment

Peggy Jacobson, David Livert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study compared the use of English past tense in a group of SpanishEnglish bilingual children with language impairment (BLI) to younger groups of bilinguals with typical and atypical language development reported in an earlier study. Ten children with BLI enrolled in 3rd-6th grade participated. Children supplied 12 regular, 12 irregular, and 12 novel past tense verbs on an elicitation task. The results demonstrated that despite 2.5 years of school exposure, older children with BLI still lagged in the production of regular and novel past tense verbs when compared to the younger typically developing (TD) controls. Although the rates of productive errors on irregular verbs increased, the older students nonetheless failed to achieve rates of over-regularization comparable to the younger TD group. These data extend earlier findings regarding the exceptional challenge of past tense use, particularly with respect to finite verb morphology in certain children with BLI. These challenges, combined with similarities between monolingual and bilingual impairment, are largely compatible with a linguistic deficit account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-121
Number of pages21
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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