Agreeing to disagree: Deaf and hearing children's awareness of subject-verb number agreement

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This study investigated deaf adolescents' implicit and explicit awareness of subject-verb number agreement. In Experiment 1, a self-paced reading task, the reading times of deaf and hearing children (matched for reading and chronological age, mean = 8;3 and 13;10 years) increased when sentences contained disagreeing subject-verb number markers. However, deaf adolescents' slowing occurred later in the sentence than it did in both groups of hearing children. The same deaf adolescents were unable to detect and correct subject-verb agreement errors in Experiment 2, whereas both groups of hearing children performed well on this task. Thus, deaf adolescents demonstrated implicit awareness of agreement in the absence of explicit knowledge. Moreover, this nascent awareness was below that expected on the basis of their (substantially delayed) reading ability. Therefore, grammatical difficulties could be a significant impediment to deaf children's literacy. Future research should examine whether this is a result of late or incomplete learning of English, bilingualism, or another factor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-498
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


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