Other tasks from the Action

This website provides information about other tasks that were used for testing the language of bilingual children within COST Action IS0804 'Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society: Linguistic Patterns and the Road to Assessment' funded by the EU RTD Framework Programme. Some of these tasks were developed in COST Action A33 "Cross-linguistically Robust Stages of Children's Linguistic Performance". 
These tasks appear in the methods book but are not part of the LITMUS battery. They can be used with proper citation as indicated below.
Assessing Multilingual Children


The Elicited Production task for Object Clitics is an adaptation of an already available clitics test (Varlokosta et al., 2016) to the multilingual setting. Object clitics (e.g., la in French as in Le garcon la dessine ‘The boy is drawing her’) involve a certain degree of computational complexity as they usually appear in a (preverbal) position which is not the canonical object position for the languages in which they are found (see Jakubowicz & Nash, 2001; Zesiger et al., 2010). Pronominal elements in general, and object clitics in particular, are used in order to refer to an element present in the discursive context. Monolingual children with SLI have been shown to have tremendous difficulties producing object clitics in obligatory contexts in various languages, specifically Romance languages, such as French (Chillier-Zesiger et al., 2006; Hamann et al., 2003; Jakubowicz et al., 1998), Italian (Bortolini et al., 2006; Bottari et al., 2001), and Spanish (Bedore & Leonard, 2001; Bosch & Serra, 1997). Bilingual children have also been reported to struggle with object clitics, but these problems seem to be overcome faster than in monolinguals with SLI (Hamann & Belletti, 2006). Research on the production of object clitics by bilingual children with SLI point to vulnerability in this area as well (Jacobson & Schwartz, 2002; Paradis et al., 2005/2006; Stavrakaki et al., 2011).


Varlokosta, S., Belletti, A., Costa, J., Friedmann, N., Gavarró, N., Grohmann, K., et al. (2016). A cross-linguistic study of the acquisition of clitic and pronoun production. Language Acquisition, 23:1, 1-26, DOI: 10.1080/10489223.2015.1028628



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The Elicited Production task for Object Clitics is an adaptation of an already available clitics test (Varlokosta et al., 2016) to the multilingual setting.

Comprehension of Wh-Exhaustivity

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The Exhaustivity task explores the interpretation of single wh-questions such as “Who is reading a book?” and multiple wh-questions such as “Who is eating what?” or “Who is giving what to whom?” (see Schulz, 2015, for a detailed description of the task and how it can be adopted to other languages). Monolingual children with SLI often have difficulty with exhaustivity; multiple wh-questions are especially problematic (e.g., English: Roeper 2004; German: Schulz & Roeper, 2011). These findings suggest that semantics can be impaired in SLI (Schulz, 2010; Hamann, 2015). Results from children with SLI  acquiring German as their second language (with different first languages) provide evidence that exhaustivity is problematic in bilingual SLI as well and can be selectively impaired (Grimm & Schulz, 2020, 2021). The vulnerability of exhaustivity in SLI, together with its cross-linguistically robust acquisition path (Schulz et al., in prep.), makes this structure a very good candidate for disentangling typical from impaired bilingual acquisition for children aged 7 and older.

Schulz, P. 2010. Some notes on semantics and SLI, Castro, A, Costa, Joao, Lobo M., Pratas, F. (ed.), Proceedings of GALA 2009 (pp. 391–406). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


Schulz, P. (2015). Comprehension of exhaustive wh-questions, S. Armon-Lotem, J. d. Jong, & N. Meir (eds.), Assessing Multilingual Children: Disentangling Bilingualism from Language Impairment (pp. 76–94). Bristol: Channel View Publications.


Hamann, C. 2015. Language Impairment in German Children. In Specific language impairment: Current trends in research [Language Acquisition and Language Disorders: S. Stavrakaki (ed.), 215-252. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Schulz, P. & Grimm, A. (2020, June). Can phonology and sentential semantics be selectively impaired in bilingual children with SLI? Talk presented at Bi-Sli 2020. Bilingualism and Specific Language Impairment (Developmental Language Disorder), Galway, Ireland [online].

Grimm, A. & Schulz, P. (2021,?in press). Phonology and semantics: markers of SLI in bilingual children at age 6? In K. Grohmann & S. Armon-Lotem (eds.), LITMUS in Action. Amsterdam: Benjamins.


Schulz, P., Gavarro, A., Prévost, P., Friedmann, N. et al. (in prep./2021). Children’s understanding of exhaustivity in wh-questions: Evidence for universal acquisition principles across 15 languages. Ms., Goethe University Frankfurt.



The Exhaustivity task explores the interpretation of single wh-questions such as “Who is reading a book?” and multiple wh-questions such as “Who is eating what?” or “Who is giving what to whom?” (see Schulz, 2015)

Subject-verb agreement

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The Subject-Verb Agreement task is a picture description task testing subject-verb agreement, that can also be used for testing verb-object agreement. Subject-verb agreement (e.g. third person –s in He walks) is affected by SLI in many languages, though certainly not all. In the languages affected, subject-verb agreement is seen as a prominent clinical marker of SLI. Errors may show as omissions or substitutions of inflectional morphemes. In English, omission is the dominant error type; in languages with a more elaborate verb paradigm, substitutions are also found. Explanations range from difficulties with specific cells of the agreement paradigm (Clahsen, 2008) to slow maturation of the ability to inflect verbs consistently (Rice et al., 1995). In studies done on Dutch language production (e.g. Orgassa, 2009), shortcomings in verbal morphology were typical of both monolingual and bilingual children with SLI. This demonstrates that verbal morphology shows promise of being an index of SLI regardless of the child’s status as a bilingual or monolingual speaker of the language. 



Subject-Verb Agreement (de Jong 2015).

Relative Clauses

Relative clauses are complex sentences that include embedding (using that, who, which), and movement of a noun phrase from within the embedded clause. It has been reported that children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) have  difficulties in the comprehension and production of relative clauses. This has been reported for multiple languages, both for monolinguals and bilinguals. Most difficulties are found with object relative clauses and is manifested in the use of simple sentences rather than complex ones. 

Novogrodsky, R., & Friedmann, N. (2006). The production of relative clauses in SLI: A window to the nature of the impairment. Advances in Speech-Language pathology, 8, 364-375.

     Naama Friedmann


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Case Contrasting

Case marking (e.g., Sie schenkt dem Mann den Apfel) is the morphological realization of the syntactic relationship between a case assigner (i.e. the finite verb for subjects, the verb for objects and prepositional phrases) or of a specific semantic function. It is realized on the noun phrase, either on the determiner, the adjective and/or the noun itself. The production of case marking has been suggested to be vulnerable in DLD (Wexler et al., 1998; Rice, 2000). Clahsen (1991), for instance, found an overuse of nominative for accusative and dative case contexts (and to a lesser extent also errors in the other direction). There is limited research on case marking in bilingual children with DLD, but first results on a study by Rothweiler et al. (2010) indicate that in Turkish-German bilingual DLD children, the realization of accusative and dative case in the L1 Turkish is impaired as compared to TD children, in that the children often omit or substitute the case marking. Further studies support these findings.




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