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What is the purpose of this study?

The study is designed to investigate how children master the complexities of language, by looking at the underlying learning processes that are involved.  The findings will help us design better intervention strategies for children who have problems in learning language naturally. 

Who is this study for?

We are looking for children with language learning difficulty aged between 7 and 13 years to take part in this project, as well as typically-developing children (children with no history of educational difficulties) in the same age range.

Language learning difficulty?

1.      Does your child have problem in understanding what you say so that you have to simplify your speech in order for him or her to respond?

2.      Does your child leave grammatical endings off words? For example, saying ‘he cook’ for ‘he cooks’, or ‘yesterday I play football’ instead of ‘played football’.

3.      Is your child otherwise intelligent, e.g., good at solving simple problems, working out what objects are used for, showing common sense in everyday situations.

4.      Does not have any history of problems with hearing, vision or any obvious neurological incidents (fits, head injury requiring time in hospital)

Your child could be an eligible participant for this study. 

What will happen if I give permission for my child to take part?

Your child would be seen for two sessions at school, at home, or at the University. These sessions can be completed on the same day, or split over two days. The first session involves assessment of the child’s language and general abilities using simple question and answer tasks in a session lasting up to 80 minutes. In session two, lasting about 40 minutes, the child is asked to earn points by tracking locations on a computer screen using buttons on the keyboard. This is followed by a short activity that involves telling whether sentences are said correctly or not. The tasks are child-friendly, playful, and engaging, and administration of the tasks is flexible with opportunities for breaks where the child can relax.  As the child’s parent, you may be asked to complete some short questionnaires about your child’s development.

What are the possible disadvantages and benefits of taking part?

There are no known or anticipated risks involved in taking part. In general, the research does not directly help the children who take part, although they usually enjoy the activities. You could be involved in an important scientific advance and our findings could help children with language learning difficulty in the future. The child would be given a token of appreciation for taking part. 

What will happen at the end of the study?

Once we have seen all the children, we will send you a report of our overall findings. Data on individual children is kept confidentially and anonymously and we do not usually report on the results of individual children. We will write our findings up for a scientific journal and present the findings to other researchers at conferences.

Funding and approval of this research

This study is funded by the Newton Fund supported by the British Academy of Medical Sciences and The Royal Society. The study has been given ethics approval by the Central University Research Ethics Committee (R46126/RE001)

What to do next

It is up to you and your child whether or not you want to take part. If you would like to take part, please get in touch with Dr. Kuppuraj Sengottuvel at Kuppuraj.sengottuvel@psy.ox.ac.uk or call him at 01865271334 on his office landline or at 07931004803 on his personal number. Kuppu would be happy to discuss the project with you before you decide whether to take part, and to answer any questions you may have.