Semin Speech Lang 2004; 25(1): 57-71
DOI: 10.1055/s-2004-824826
Copyright © 2004 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Assessing Pragmatic Skills in Elicited Production

Peter de Villiers1
  • 1Professor of Psychology, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
15 April 2004 (online)

In developing a test of pragmatic skills for children ages 4 to 9 years, we focused on a number of functional language skills that are important for children's success in early schooling and for the development of fluent reading and writing. They included (1) wh-question asking, (2) communicative role taking, (3) linking events in a cohesive narrative, and (4) articulating the mental states of the characters in a story. All of the proposed items provide specific referential support and pragmatic motivation for the forms and content to be produced by the child. The pictured materials and elicitation prompts constrain the range of appropriate utterances, so the children's productions are more easily scored than an open-ended spontaneous speech sample. All tasks described show a clear developmental trend, a clear separation between the performance of typically developing and language-impaired children, and no performance differences between African American English- and Mainstream American English-speaking children.


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Peter A de VilliersPh.D. 

Professor of Psychology, Smith College, Northampton

Amherst, MA 01003