Projects

Currently I am the principal investigator of one project (see #1 below) and I work with collaborators around Sweden and in the USA on six more projects (#2-7). Below is also a description of my dissertation project (#8).

All projects focus on language and literacy skills in children and adolescents with and without developmental language disorder (DLD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders, with an overarching aim to inform clinical and classroom practice from both a theoretical and a practical perspective.

If you want more information on any of the projects – please contact me at annaeva.hallin (at) ki.se. 


#1. EXPLORE-SA: Expository language and oral retelling skills in Swedish Adolescents.

Project summary:
Language skills, including reading and writing, are crucial for students to succeed academically and socially. Throughout the school years, language demands increase. As students mature, increasingly complex content is expected to be expressed through more advanced vocabulary and grammar for a range of different purposes, including to narrate, to explain, or to argue. These discourse-level tasks pose a challenge to students with developmental language disorder (DLD), which may be difficult to capture with existing standardized language tests. Further, there is a lack of clinically, culturally, and academically relevant elicitation protocols for oral and written discourse for Swedish-speaking school-age children. The objective with this study is to describe central characteristics of late language development, and to quantify linguistic characteristics and variability in students with LDs through four structured and ecologically valid elicitation tasks. We will achieve this goal by collecting data from 10-16-year old students across three oral and one written task with increasing demands on language skills, executive functioning, and memory. The study has three interrelated aims:

Aim 1: Develop and pilot clinically useful discourse elicitation protocols. Based on previous research including from English-speaking children, we have created two age-appropriate and carefully matched stories for retelling, one with and one without picture support, as well as one oral and one written expository task on the same familiar topic (student’s favorite sport/game). The tasks enable analysis of interactions between different levels of support (with/without pictures), modality (spoken/written), word choices expressing target content (e.g., cause-effect) and grammatical complexity/accuracy. We will pilot these tasks on smaller groups of students (5-10 per grade).

Aim 2: Quantify typical patterns of interactions between language, task, and modality. Language assessment in the clinic has traditionally focused on aspects of language form (such as grammar). The protocols developed in aim 1 will enable analyses of developmental patterns of increasingly complex interactions between form, content, task, and modality, as well as the intra-individual variability in students with typical language development (TLD). We will collect data from students in 4th-9th grade (30 students/grade), which will form a comparison database. Through this aim, we expect to determine if and how age affects language complexity in terms of overall structure, word-choice, grammar, and content, and what tasks will elicit more complex language. The data will be made available for clinicians alongside with the elicitation protocols and analysis procedures.

Aim 3: Compare patterns of intra-individual variability in students with and without LDs (such as Developmental language disorder, Dyslexia and ADHD). We will collect data to describe which linguistic structures and contexts are particularly challenging for students with different types of LD, and to specify measures that are clinically relevant to analyze. The data may provide the basis for the investigation of the selection of suitable language treatment targets, based on high-variability/vulnerable emerging language behaviors in students with DLD. This variability is central in moving from one stable state in development to the next according to the dynamic systems view, and is an aspect often overlooked in traditional standardized language testing. The linguistic patterns across the four tasks from students with LD in grades 4-9 (at least 10 students/grade) will be compared to students with TLD (from data set collected in aim 2) to find patterns of similarity and change.

This project will allow us to better understand LDs, especially in the underserved school-age population. The project is unique in the Swedish context due to the focus on later academic language development, and the direct application to clinical practice.

Progress: We have piloted the protocols and are continuing to collect data on children with typical language development in Swedish grades 4-9 as well as children with DLD and dyslexia in grades 4-9 (aim 2 and 3). Two examination projects (final thesis) and one master’s thesis in Speech and Language Pathology have been finished (supervised by me) and two master’s thesis project is underway.  Two publications with data from this project have been published so far (open access):

Bergman, A., & Hallin, A. E. (2021). The effect of picture support on narrative retells in Swedish adolescents with ADHD. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics35(7), 690-705.

Hällström E, Myr J, Hallin AE. Narrative retells in Swedish school-aged children – a clinical pilot study. Logopedics Phoniatric Vocology. 2021 Aug 30:1-11. doi: 10.1080/14015439.2021.1966833. Epub ahead of print.


#2. SALT in SWEDISH

Collaboration with Ketty Andersson (Lund University), Maria Levlin (Umeå University) and Elisabeth Nilsson (Umeå University)

In this project we are developing Swedish coding and elicitation manuals for the software SALT (Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts) with the long-term goal to make Swedish databases with comparison data for narrative and expository tasks including pre-school and school age children, as well as manuals available for Swedish SLPs to be used in clinical practice.

Progress: A first version of a Swedish manual is finished and is being used in several final projects for SLP-students. We plan to apply for grants during 2022.


#3. Swedish-speaking children with developmental language disorder in comparison with second language learners: A new look at grammatical challenges

Collaboration with Christina Reuterskiöld (Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, New York University, USA), Kristina Hansson (Institutionen för kliniska vetenskaper, Logopedi Foinatri och logopedi, Lund University) and Vishnu Kaleeckal Krishnankutty Nair (Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, West Virginia University, USA)

In this project, we aim to advance theory about language learning. It will be the first Swedish study linking processing and production skills in children with DLD and in L2 learners, while also including a training component with the aim to inform clinical and educational practice.

Progress: Several applications are submitted as the first step in a project which will use eye-tracking technology to investigate grammatical processing in children with developmental language disorder and children learning Swedish as their second language. One review article is published:

Reuterskiöld, C., Hallin, A. E., Nair, V. K., & Hansson, K. (2021). Morphosyntactic Challenges for Swedish-Speaking Children with Developmental Language Disorder in Comparison with L1 and L2 Peers. Applied Linguistics. 42(4), 720–739.


#4. Analysis of longitudinal data from a national large scale reading screening program and development of a new subtest of grammatical comprehension.

The Legilexi foundation have data from more than 23000 teachers’ students in grades 1-3 across Sweden and I am a part of a team of researchers that will analyze and explore this data, where I will focus on the language measures in relationship to what we know about Developmental Language Disorder in school-age children.

Collaboration with Linda Fälth (Institutionen för pedagogik och lärande, Linnéuniversitetet), Tomas Nordström (Institutionen för Psykologi, Linnéuniversitetet), Stefan Gustafson, Ulrika B. Andersson (Institutionen för beteendevetenskap och lärande, Linköpings Universitet),  and the LegiLexi Foundation (www.legilexi.org)

Progress: A pilot version of a grammatical comprehension screening task has been developed and will be evaluated 2021-2022. Our most recent publication you can find here (open access):

Hallin, AE., Danielsson, H., Nordström, T., & Fälth, L. (2022). No learning loss in Sweden during the pandemic: Evidence from primary school reading assessments. International Journal of Educational Research, 114, 102011. Doi: 10.1016/j.ijer.2022.102011.


#5. SPETS: Developmental Language Disorder – access to and effects of different interventions for pre-school children (Språkstörning – effekt av och tillgång till olika behandlingsformer för barn i förskoleålden)

Collaboration with Sofia Strömbergsson, Anders Sand och Sara Burge (Enheten för logopedi, Karolinska Institutet) and Carmela Miniscalco (Göteborgs Universitet / Drottning Silvias barn- och ungdomssjukhus, Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhuset, Göteborg).

The purpose of SPETS is to evaluate the effect of the language intervention for children with severe DLD at specialized preschool units compared to “business-as-usual-intervention” at speech and language clinics. SPU intervention is resource-intensive (small child groups, higher staffing including an SLP), but the effect of this intervention is little researched. In this project we will identify potential candidates for SPU before admission and follow them over time. Therefore we will both have a comparison group to evaluate the effects of intervention (those who are admitted to SPU and those who are not admittet), and we will also be able to examine which factors impact access to SPUs. My expert contribution to this project will be my knowledge about LSA as a tool of measuring language and language outcomes

Progress: Several grant applications have been submitted and we plan to start data collection fall 2021.


#6. Assessing the Assessment Practices of Speech and Language Practitioners

Collaboration with Petri Partanen, Ph.D. and Lic. Psychologist. Department of Psychology and Social Work, Mid-Sweden University

This project aims at assessing, and in a second step developing the current assessment practices of Speech and Language Practitioners in Sweden. The project will describe how SLPs experience their assessment practices, including assessment of speech, language and communication abilities in general, as well as Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) in particular, and the prevalence and use of different assessment tools and frameworks, including Dynamic Assessment.

Progress: A survey was constructed and sent out November-December 2019, and 683 Swedish SLPs responded. One article is under review (summer 2022) and one article is under preparation.


#7. Narrative ability in children with speech sound disorders

Collaboration with Julie Case (Spech-Language-Hearing Sciences Department, Hofstra University, NY, USA).

In this project we interested in investigating narrative ability in children with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), non-CAS speech sound disorder and typical children, and whether narrative measures are associated with speech status after controlling for language ability.

Progress: Data has been presented at several conferences. A manuscript is under preparation.


#8. Language processing and awareness in Swedish-speaking school-age children with and without language impairment (Dissertation Project)

Background: Language impairment (LI) in school-age children is less explored than in younger children, particularly in languages other than English. Emergentist theorists emphasize effects of frequency of words and morpho-syntactic patterns (lexical/structural frequency) on language processing. No studies have investigated frequency effects in morpho-syntactic error detection and correction tasks, which are common measures of metalinguistic awareness.

Aims: 1) Contribute to knowledge about LI in Swedish-speaking school-age children, 2) Investigate effects of frequency on error detection and correction, and 3) Discuss the metalinguistic demands of these tasks.

Methods: Ten-year-olds with LI or typical development (TD) participated in error detection (NLI=10, NTD=30) and correction (nLI=8, NTD=30). TD children also participated in error repetition (control experiment, n=29). Target sentences contained morpho-syntactic errors that characterize the language of young Swedish children with LI: the infinitive instead of past tense for regular/irregular verbs, and the omission of the indefinite article in common/neuter gender noun phrases. Target verbs and nouns were of high or low frequency (HF/LF).

Results: Error detection results showed that children with LI had specific difficulties with the target errors compared to a plural/singular control error. Children with LI had significantly weaker error detection/correction results than children with TD. All children showed effects of lexical and/or structural frequency in the tasks: LF verbs were associated with lower error sensitivity, fewer accurate corrections, and more accurate repetitions. Errors involving irregular verbs were more difficult to correct (but not to detect) than those involving regular verbs. Effects of lexical frequency were not seen for noun phrase errors, but the neuter article (with lower structural frequency) was associated with lower error sensitivity than the common article. Noun phrase errors were easier to correct than to detect for all children, and associated with lower accuracy in error repetition. The results indicate that error detection involves less explicit awareness than error correction and repetition. For error correction, LF words and verb errors seemed to involve more explicit awareness than HF words and noun phrase errors.

Conclusion: The results may help explain the variability in the morpho-syntactic performance of children with LI. Effects of frequency is important to consider when assessing grammatical/metalinguistic ability.

This dissertation was successfully defended on April 4, 2016 and was nominated for the NYU Steinhardt’s Outstanding Dissertation Award. Carol Miller (PSU) and Maria Grigos (NYU) served as readers.

The Dissertation Committee members were Christina Reuterskiöld (chair, NYU), Susannah Levi (NYU), Richard Schwartz (CUNY) and Sven Strömqvist (Lund University).


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