To address the needs of the growing number of Spanish-English bilingual children in the United States, Nonword Repetition (NWR) tasks were created to reduce testing bias in the assessment and diagnosis of children with developmental language disorder (DLD). Several studies have shown promising results in the use of NWR tasks; however, fewer studies have addressed questions such as the use of different scoring methods or analyzing error patterns. Thus, this study was conducted to address these gaps in the research. An English and a Spanish NWR task were administered to 26 Spanish-English bilingual school aged children (6;0-9;4). Two different scoring methods (percent phoneme correct and whole word scoring) were compared for diagnostic accuracy and the types and frequency of errors were analyzed. Both scoring methods showed statistically significant differences between groups (participants with DLD and those with typically developing language). Whole word scoring in Spanish had the best diagnostic accuracy, according to sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratio measures. However, due to the small number of nonwords that any participant repeated correctly, this may not be a clinically practical scoring method. The Spanish NWR task was a better measure than the English NWR task in identifying children with DLD, suggesting that Spanish NWR could be used to assess DLD in bilingual children. Participants with DLD produced more consonant, vowel, substitution, and omission errors than those with typically developing language. There was no difference between groups for addition errors. Significantly more omission errors were made in Spanish, likely due to the longer nonwords. The longer nonwords may be key in distinguishing between typically developing children and those with DLD. These results have the potential to inform future clinical practices in selecting, scoring, and analyzing NWR tasks.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





nonword repetition tasks, bilingual, developmental language disorder, percent phoneme correct, whole word, errors



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