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Age of word acquisition effects in treatment of children with phonological delays

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 2011

Indiana University
Indiana University
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Judith A. Gierut, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, 200 South Jordan Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405-7002. E-mail:


The effects of the age of acquisition (AoA) of words were examined in the clinical treatment of 10 preschool children with phonological delays. Using a single-subject multiple-baseline experimental design, children were enrolled in one of four conditions that varied the AoA of the treated words (early vs. late acquired) relative to their corresponding word frequency (high vs. low frequency). Phonological generalization to treated and untreated sounds in error served as the dependent variable. Results showed that late acquired words induced greater generalization, with an effect size four times greater than early acquired words, whereas the effects of word frequency were minimized. Results are discussed relative to hypotheses about the role of AoA in language acquisition and the relevance of this variable for phonological learning.

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