Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kresheck, Janet D.||Fisher, Cletus||Irvin, Bruce E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Speech


Children--Language; English language--Syntax


The spontaneous and imitative method of assessment of syntactic skills in children was investigated in order to answer the following questions: (1) will differences be found in the syntactic behavior of children when measured by the spontaneous or imitative method of assessment, and (2) what effect does imitation have upon children's use of certain syntactic forms? Eleven children ranging in age from four years three months to four, years nine months participated as subjects in the study. Subjects' taped responses elicited with the spontaneous and imitative methods were analyzed for correct usage of four syntactic forms, prepositions, plural nouns, direct object, and auxiliary + verb + -ing. It was found that with the imitative method of response elicitation, higher scores were found regardless of syntactic area tested in the present study when the results were examined for group tendencies as a whole. However, when the results of each method of response elicitation were broken down into each syntactic area and examined for the group as a whole, it was found that the imitative method improved subjects' syntactic performance for all syntactic forms tested, except plural nouns. The data was further analyzed according to the percentage of subjects who scored higher on imitative tasks, the percentage who scored equally well on both tasks, and the percentage who scored lower on imitative tasks for all four syntactic areas. The finding that less than one-third of the subjects scored lower on the imitative tasks, and one-half scored equally well on spontaneous and imitative tasks for all areas suggests that perhaps because of linguistic maturation, subjects, as a group, were demonstrating greater active control for these areas.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


viii, 66 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type