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In school, children with developmental language disorder are at risk for failure in academically relevant language skills. So, looking at a typical elementary school classroom, two students will have a language impairment. These students go on to have academic problems and are less likely to graduate from high school and college. Scientists at the University of Delaware believe that improved treatments for language impairment can change these children’s trajectories. Through a research study funded by the National Science Foundation, the researchers are investigating three types of interventions — focused on vocabulary, grammar and phonological awareness — to see what intervention has the biggest impact on academic performance. Regarding their impact on science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum in American schools, linguistic skills are more important than one might think. Communication is a critical piece for success in these courses. Students that can’t understand and speak the language of science — words like hypothesize, prediction, experiment, discover and measure — run the great risk of quickly falling behind.

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