Reading the same story can help young children who are struggling to read, according to a Sussex University academic.
The university said: “New research suggests that repeat reading helps children with specific language impairment close the gap on their more able peers within a week.
“Simple repetition learning techniques could help young children struggling with language to learn vocabulary faster.”
The findings come from a study by Jessica Horst, from Sussex, and Katharina Rohlfing, from Paderborn University, in Germany.
They looked at whether repeated storybook reading was beneficial to children who had a specific language impairment (SLI) diagnosed in helping them to retain information and word recall compared with those who were developing at the typical rate for their age.
They worked with three-year-old German children to build on the results from a 2011 study conducted at Sussex by Dr Horst.
The earlier study suggested that pre-school children do retain more new words through story repetition. And the researchers found that the same applied to language-impaired children.
They tested two groups of children on new word retention following identical storybook reading sessions. Although the children with SLI did significantly worse than their peers on the initial word learning tests, there was no difference in word retention between the two groups one week later.
The results indicate that over time, children with SLI benefit from hearing the same stories again and again. The findings will come as a huge boost to a number of parents of language-impaired children across the world.
Dr Horst said: “Our research shows that something as simple as reading the same stories again and again can also help children with specific language impairment increase their word knowledge. We hope these results will be encouraging to parents of children with SLI.
“Although there is much left to do, these findings are promising and may help us create cost-effective intervention for children with SLI – including interventions that parents can participate in too.”
Professor Rohlfing said: “Crucial to our results, children benefited from repetitions of the stories and the fact that several reading sessions took place before the final testing.
“So, reading a story again and again as well as establishing a reading routine might be the best combination for an effective intervention.”
The study appears this month in the journal Communication Disorders Quarterly and online.
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