‘Where does Granny live?’ The role of test questions in conversational remembering between mothers and their children with developmental language disorder


  • Lucy Hughes University College London
  • Juliette Corrin University College London
  • Caroline Newton University College London
  • Wendy Best University College London




Developmental Language Disorder, Intervention, Parent-child interaction, children conversation


Background: Parent–child conversations form the primary context for language acquisition. This article investigates the role of test questions (TQs) in shaping turn construction opportunities for children with language disorder during conversational remembering with their mothers.

Method: Video-recorded data from two mother–child dyads were evaluated using conversation analysis (CA). A recently proposed framework was used to examine TQ sequences initiated and developed from both a knowing and unknowing epistemic stance.

Results: Our findings suggest that turn-taking and turn construction opportunities for the child are shaped by: congruity of mother’s epistemic stance within and across turns; positioning of mother’s remembering as shared, joint, or collaborative; availability of language elements in mother’s turn for the child’s next turn construction; and mother’s expectation of competence display by the child in their following turn.

Discussion and conclusion: Our data reveal the potential of CA to inform understanding of TQ patterns and interventions which support parents in the refinement of conversation skills to help children with language disorder.

Author Biographies

Lucy Hughes, University College London

Lucy Hughes is a speech and language therapist and final year PhD candidate at UCL. Her doctoral research involves designing and trialing a new intervention for children with language disorder, which targets their everyday conversation skills. Lucy was employed as a research associate on the Word Retrieval and Development (WORD) project, a clinical research study which evaluated interventions for children with word-finding difficulties. As a clinician, she has worked across schools, health centers, and preschool language units, specializing in developmental language disorder. Prior to retraining as an SLT, Lucy worked as a journalist and television producer, and completed an undergraduate degree in modern languages.

Juliette Corrin, University College London

Dr. Juliette Corrin is a speech and language therapist and honorary research associate at UCL. She acts as a specialist advisor on the ‘Better Conversations with Children’ project. Juliette completed her PhD in 2001, using CA as a primary methodology to expose sequences of interaction between mother and toddler dyads that facilitated the typically developing child’s emergent syntax: learning to combine words productively in first ‘sentences’ during conversation. Conversation analysis has continued to be a focus in collaborative work with Dr. Merle Mahon’s research into hearing-impaired children’s language enrichment conversations with teachers during story time at preschool. In private clinical practice as a speech-language therapist, CA informs Juliette’s work in parent–child interaction therapy.

Caroline Newton, University College London

Dr. Caroline Newton is a clinical linguist and program director at UCL. Her research focuses on the application of linguistic theory and analysis to disordered speech and language, and the contribution of communication disorders to the understanding of speech and language processing. Her particular interest is in communication beyond the level of the single word and in everyday contexts, and includes work with both children and adults with a variety of communication difficulties. Ongoing research includes the SWAN (Sequences in Words and Numbers) project, a game-based approach to learning (or re-learning) basic numeracy skills, designed specifically for children and adults with communication difficulties.

Wendy Best, University College London

Professor Wendy Best has been working in language and communication disorder research for over 25 years, with a focus on intervention with children with language needs and adults with aphasia. Her research enables the co-creation and evaluation of novel interventions for those with communication disorder that can be used in clinical practice and informs understanding of mechanisms of change, particularly in word retrieval and conversation. Previous projects include work with people with developmental dyslexia, disorders of short-term memory, category-specific semantic disorders, and word sound deafness. Wendy directs the UCL Centre for Speech and Language Intervention Research, which links research and practice, and supervises professionals and students investigating clinically driven research questions.


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How to Cite

Hughes, L., Corrin, J. ., Newton, C., & Best, W. . (2022). ‘Where does Granny live?’ The role of test questions in conversational remembering between mothers and their children with developmental language disorder. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 12(2), 152–182. https://doi.org/10.1558/jircd.20235