Syntactic priming and language intervention for children with grammatical deficits

Laurence B. Leonard, Windi Krok, Lisa Wisman Weil

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we discuss how insights from the syntactic priming literature might refine language intervention procedures for children with grammatical deficits. In turn, we note how current language intervention practices can suggest new areas of research on syntactic priming. Applications from syntactic priming to language intervention include consideration of the lexical content of the clinician’s input utterance relative to the child’s response, the timing between the input utterance and the response, and even the degree to which the input utterance is directed toward the child rather than to another participant in the conversation. Research on syntactic priming based on current language intervention practices can likewise cover a wide range. Some research questions concern priming effects as a function of the child’s level of grammar, such as whether a child’s utterances are first confined to the same thematic structure as the prime, only later becoming more abstract. Other questions pertain to the conversational role of the prime, such as whether a prime is just as effective if it was a recast of the child’s own prior utterance. It appears that each area – syntactic priming and language intervention – can benefit from the contributions of the other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSyntactic Priming in Language Acquisition Representations, mechanisms and applications
EditorsKatherine Messenger
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789027257376
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameTrends in Language Acquisition Research
ISSN (Print)1569-0644


  • developmental language disorder
  • language intervention
  • recasts
  • specific language impairment
  • syntactic priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication


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