Marilyn Nippold and J. Bruce Tomblin are the headliners in this group of researchers finding that adolescents produce higher syntactic complexity in expository contexts when compared to conversational contexts.cover  Expository discourse is described by the authors as what “is often required in educational, social, and vocational contexts, as when a high school student is asked to interpret the outcome of an historical event, describe methods to control global warming, or teach others how to perform a chemistry experiment, operate a new cell phone, or prepare a multicourse gourmet dinner. The complexity of these topics suggests that successful explanations require sophisticated language skills and specialized background knowledge.”

Two points justified this study’s conclusion:  1)  There was very little difference between compared SLI (specific language impairment) adolescent groups and adolescent group members with typically developing language when using conversation.  2)  There was a difference between these two groups when comparing measures of expository discourse.

The conclusion:  In adolescents it appears that expository discourse may yield better diagnostic accuracy than more informal conversation when determing the presence of language disorder.  The study was in the November edition of the AJSLP.

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