Applied Psycholinguistics

Can children with speech difficulties process an unfamiliar accent?

a1 University College London
a2 University of Sheffield


This study explores the hypothesis that children identified as having phonological processing problems may have particular difficulty in processing a different accent. Children with speech difficulties (n = 18) were compared with matched controls on four measures of auditory processing. First, an accent auditory lexical decision task was administered. In one condition, the children made lexical decisions about stimuli presented in their own accent (London). In the second condition, the stimuli were spoken in an unfamiliar accent (Glaswegian). The results showed that the children with speech difficulties had a specific deficit on the unfamiliar accent. Performance on the other auditory discrimination tasks revealed additional deficits at lower levels of input processing. The wider clinical implications of the findings are considered.

c1 Liz Nathan, Department of Human Communication Science, University College London, Chandler House, 2 Wakefield Street, London WC1N 1PF, U.K. E-mail: