Children’s reformulations during speech-language assessment

Ways to show competence in children with Developmental Language Disorder


  • Annette Esbensen University of Southern Denmark
  • Maja Sigurd Pilesjö University of Southern Denmark



assessment, child-initiated reformulations, concrete competence, conversation analysis, Developmental Language Disorder


In speech and language therapy it is common to do an assessment of a child’s speech and language abilities. During the assessment, the child does not solely carry out the assigned task, but also does repair work to achieve intersubjectivity in order to perform well in the test activity. The aim of the present study was to investigate how children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) design and initiate repair during assessment. Sixteen children with DLD aged between 7;05 (7 years and 5 months) to 10;00 years were included. The data consist of video recordings of the children and a researcher made during the test activities, and conversation analysis is used to analyse the data. Findings show how the children initiate several kinds of repair during the test activities, with several types of reformulations presenting candidate understandings. The reformulations occurred just after the task-setting turn (TST), and they indicate that the children displayed an understanding of what was expected of them during the test activities. By using reformulations, the children thus revealed pragmatic skills and demonstrated competence in being a test taker. These findings may have clinical implications when assessing pragmatic skills.

Author Biographies

  • Annette Esbensen, University of Southern Denmark

    Annette Esbensen received her PhD in Audiologopedics from University of Southern Denmark and is currently associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark. Her main research interests include children with hearing impairment and language learning difficulties (Developmental Language Disorder).

  • Maja Sigurd Pilesjö, University of Southern Denmark

    Maja Sigurd Pilesjö is a speech-language therapist with clinical experience, mainly in the field of severe speech impairment and augmentative and alternative communication. She completed her PhD in 2012 and is currently an associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark. Her main research interests are interaction involving persons with speech, language and communication impairment and the role of the communication partner and facilitator in everyday interaction and intervention settings.


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How to Cite

Esbensen, A., & Sigurd Pilesjö, M. (2024). Children’s reformulations during speech-language assessment: Ways to show competence in children with Developmental Language Disorder. Communication and Medicine, 19(2), 126-136.