Nonword repetition (NWR) has demonstrated significant potential as a less-biased language assessment measure for dual language learners (DLLs). However, there are currently no available guidelines for the use of NWR in a clinical setting. The purpose of this preliminary study is to develop initial recommendations for the clinical use of NWR tasks by determining the diagnostic accuracy and optimal cut-off scores for two NWR tasks and scoring methods, and to evaluate the clinical feasibility of NWR as an assessment measure. Participants included 23 DLL students with and without language disorder between the ages of 6 and 8. Spanish and English NWR tasks were administered in school classrooms and scored by percent phonemes correct (PPC) and number of whole words correct. Optimal cut-off scores resulting in the best sensitivity and specificity were calculated for each task and scoring method. Diagnostic accuracy was then compared for each task, combination of tasks, and scoring method. English PPC, Spanish PPC, and combined whole word scores yielded acceptable levels of sensitivity and specificity. Combined PPC scores resulted in excellent specificity, but inadequate sensitivity. Whole word scores for the tasks individually did not approach acceptable diagnostic accuracy. The current findings suggest that NWR can be feasibly implemented in the clinical setting and yield accurate results. English-Spanish whole word scores show potential as an accurate assessment measure for DLL children but should be investigated further. English-Spanish PPC scores appear to be appropriate for ruling out a language disorder, but are insufficient for ruling one in. These results provide preliminary support for the use of NWR tasks in the clinical assessment of DLLs as well as initial recommendations for their administration and interpretation.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





nonword repetition, dual language learners, language disorder, evaluation, percent phonemes correct, whole word



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Education Commons