Primary or "specific" language impairment and children learning a second language

Kathryn Kohnert, Jennifer Windsor, Kerry Danahy Ebert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


We review empirical findings from children with primary or "specific" language impairment (PLI) and children who learn a single language from birth (L1) and a second language (L2) beginning in childhood. The PLI profile is presented in terms of both language and nonlinguistic features. The discussion of L2 learners emphasizes variable patterns of growth and skill distribution in L1 and L2 which complicate the identification of PLI in linguistically diverse learners. We then introduce our research program, designed to map out common ground and potential fault lines between typically developing children learning one or two languages, as compared to children with PLI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - May 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The writing of this manuscript was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development RFA-DC-05-00, titled Processing Measures of LI in Linguistically Diverse Learners.


  • Developmental language disorders
  • Nonlinguistic processing
  • SLI
  • Sequential bilingual


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