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The Influence of Language on Numerical and Arithmetic Development

The main goal of this research being conducted by Florence Gabriel and Denes Szucs is to improve our understanding of core numerical and arithmetic abilities as well as to develop pedagogical interventions for children with learning difficulties. To address this issue, this research focuses on typically developing children and children with specific language impairments (SLI) who both face mathematical difficulties.

The acquisition of basic mathematical competencies, such as the capacity to add or subtract, is a fundamental step in the school curriculum. Studies conducted on typically developing children have demonstrated the implication of language during calculation. Since language-based representations are involved in the acquisition and storage of arithmetic facts, language delays would be likely to cause difficulties in learning arithmetic. Indeed, in children with SLI (i.e. children with poor language skills, in the absence of mental retardation, hearing impairment, or neurological damage), mathematical deficits often co-occur with the language problem. However, the determination of the cognitive and linguistic factors that underlie their problems in calculation remains tentative. In the first part of the research, mathematical and cognitive skills of children with SLI will be assessed. An intervention will be designed and carried out in the second part of this research.

This research is conducted in collaboration with the Université Libre de Bruxelles and is supported by the Wiener-Anspach Foundation, €188,000, October 2012-September 2014.

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