RuCLAB (Russian Child Language Assessment Battery)
While a variety of standardized tests for assessment of language development exist for English children (e.g., Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals Preschool-2 (Wiig, Secord & Semel, 2004)), there is a lack of such tests for Russian-speaking children. Thus it is impossible to define quantitative norms for language development in Russian and to specify the type and severity of linguistic deficit in children in clinical practice and research studies. In response to the medical and experimental needs, a novel standardized language development test – the «RuCLAB» – has been developed. This test covers all the levels of linguistic processing in auditory comprehension and oral production language domains and takes into account all relevant psycholinguistic variables. Importantly, to standardize the presentation and scoring, «RuCLAB» is implemented on tablet, i.e. for each subtest the stimuli are presented automatically and the responses are recorded and scored (for comprehension tasks only) also automatically.
Overall, the test includes 11 tasks that assess children’s phonological, lexical, morphosyntactic, and discourse skills in comprehension and in production.
Nonword discrimination. In this task, we ask a child to listen to pairs of nonwords and identify whether they are the same (kyt’-kyt’) or different (gaska-gaksa) by touching the words “yes” (same) or “no” (different) on the screen. Half of the pairs include the same nonwords, another half — different nonwords. Poor discrimination of nonwords indicates a deficit in acoustic-phonetic analysis.
Noun comprehension. In this task, we ask a child to listen to object words and choose a corresponding picture out of four (word-to-picture matching paradigm). Each auditory stimulus is presented together with four pictures, corresponding to the target word ( barrel ) and the phonological (e.g. barrel - bud , in Russian: бочка - почка ), semantic (e.g. barrel - bottle , in Russian: бочка - бутылка ), and unrelated distractors.
Verb comprehension. In this task, we ask a child to listen to action words and choose a corresponding picture out of four (word-to-picture matching paradigm). Each auditory stimulus is presented together with four pictures, corresponding to the target word (to pour) and the phonological (e.g. to pour – to embroider, in Russian: выливать - вышивать), semantic (e.g. to pour – to dump, in Russian: выливать - высыпать), and unrelated distractors.
Sentence comprehension. In this task, we ask a child to listen to sentences and choose a corresponding picture out of two (sentence-to-picture matching paradigm; e.g. “Where is the grandfather who is dressing the grandmother?”, in Russian: “Где дедушка, который одевает бабушку?”; distracting picture “Grandmother is dressing the grandfather”, in Russian: “Бабушка одевает дедушку”). We evaluate how a child identifies relationships among the words by means of word order cues, grammatical markers, prepositions, and semantic knowledge, in order to be able to extract the sentence meaning.
Discourse comprehension. In this task, we ask a child to listen to a story in its entirety and to verify if the follow-up statements are true or false. The statements target either the main line or the details of the story. In addition to phonological, lexical-semantic and syntactic processing, we evaluate pragmatic skills, such as constructing inferences and understanding the connections between the elements of the text.
Nonword repetition. In this task, we ask a child to listen to nonwords (e.g. spikva) and repeat them. All stimuli still preserve the Russian phonotactic regularities and vary in length and articulatory complexity. This task assesses deficits in the sublexical acoustic-to-phonological conversion and the phonological buffer.
Object naming. In this task, we ask a child to name the object depicted on the picture. Stimulus nouns vary in frequency and age of acquisition.
Sentence production. In this task, we ask a child to describe the picture relying on the provided spoken model (syntactic priming paradigm). Children are presented with two pictures at a time. The picture on the left is used to model the child’s response, while the picture on the right is used to elicit the response. For example, a picture on the left is accompanied by the sentence: “Grandfather is cleaning the carpet with a brush”, in Russian: “Дедушка чистит ковер щеткой”. The target picture on the right depicts a girl writing a letter with a pencil and the participant is prompted to say what the picture depicts using the same syntactic construction as used in the prime sentence, “ The girl is writing a letter with a pencil”, in Russian: “Девочка пишет письмо карандашом”.
Sentence repetition. In this task, we ask a child to listen to sentences and repeat them (e.g. "The bus was late for two hours", in Russian: "Автобус опоздал на два часа"). The sentences vary in length and lexical complexity.
Discourse production. In this task, we ask a child to produce a story based on the presented picture with several characters with exposition, climax, and resolution.
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