DOI: 10.1044/2023_jslhr-23-00091 ISSN:

Spanish Bilingual Morphosyntactic Development in Bilingual Children With and Without Developmental Language Disorder: Articles, Clitics, Verbs, and the Subjunctive Mood

Anny Castilla-Earls, Juliana Ronderos, Lisa Fitton
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


The purpose of this study was to examine the growth of previously established clinical markers of developmental language disorder (DLD) in Spanish-speaking bilingual children with and without DLD.


Forty-three bilingual children with DLD and 57 typically developing children were tested 3 times over a 2-year period. Their average age at Time 1 was 5;10 (years;months). All children completed an elicitation task examining the production of articles, clitics, verbs, and the subjunctive mood in Spanish at each time point, in addition to other behavioral testing in Spanish and English. We used growth curve analysis to examine change patterns of the morphosyntactic structures over time.


At the onset of the study, children without DLD produced higher accuracy rates than children with DLD across all morphosyntactic structures. In addition, there was a positive effect of time on all structures. Furthermore, the interaction between time and DLD was statistically significant for clitic pronouns.


In agreement with previous literature on language growth in monolingual children with DLD, bilingual children with DLD showed language growth that was parallel to that of bilingual children without DLD but with significantly lower levels of attainment.

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