Using principles of learning to inform language therapy design for children with specific language impairment

Mary Alt, Christina Meyers, Alexandra Ancharski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: Language treatment for children with specific language impairment (SLI) often takes months to achieve moderate results. Interventions often do not incorporate the principles that are known to affect learning in unimpaired learners. Aims: To outline some key findings about learning in typical populations and to suggest a model of how they might be applied to language treatment design as a catalyst for further research and discussion. Methods & Procedures: Three main principles of implicit learning are reviewed: variability, complexity and sleep-dependent consolidation. After explaining these principles, evidence is provided as to how they influence learning tasks in unimpaired learners. Information is reviewed on principles of learning as they apply to impaired populations, current treatment designs are also reviewed that conform to the principles, and ways in which principles of learning might be incorporated into language treatment design are demonstrated. Main Contribution: This paper provides an outline for how theoretical knowledge might be applied to clinical practice in an effort to promote discussion. Conclusions & Implications: Although the authors look forward to more specific details on how the principles of learning relate to impaired populations, there is ample evidence to suggest that these principles should be considered during treatment design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-498
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • children
  • intervention
  • learning
  • specific language impairment
  • therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Using principles of learning to inform language therapy design for children with specific language impairment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this