KPW Recast

Effects of Recast Rate and Distribution on Irregular Past Tense Acquisition

Principle Investigator: Dr. Kerry Proctor-Williams


Research Question: How do quick corrections during conversation, called recasts, help children learn grammar?

Dr. Proctor-Williams of East Tennessee State University’s Department of Communication Disorders, has received a $207,000 grant from the National Institute of Health for a study that examines child language acquisition through recast rates and distribution.

When a child says I falled down and an adult responds with a correction Oh, you fell down, this is called a recast. Research shows that children who are developing language typically will learn the correct form more quickly when they hear recasts, but only to a point. If an adult uses them too often, like “nagging”, the child may not pay attention to the helpful qualities or recasts. In contrast, children with language delays seem to need more recasts to benefit from them.

This study will examine two aspects of recasts:

  1. Does recast rate affect children’s learning of irregular past tense verbs? That is, does it matter if children hear 5, 10 or 15 recasts in 10 minutes?
  2. Does recast distribution affect children’s learning of irregular past tense verbs? That is, does it matter if children hear 20 recasts all in 1 session or across 2 or 5 sessions?

Dr. Proctor-Williams hopes that the information gained from this study will help with an understanding of the best approach to use recasts in therapy and how learning from recasts by children with language impairment compares to that of children with typical language development.

The Research Study: The children will be taught 4 made-up verbs, such as bive, which have an irregular past tense, such as bove during play with specific toy sets. In conversation, when the children use a regular past tense, such as bived, the examiner will recast it with the irregular form. In one experiment, 2 verbs will be recast at a specific rate and in another experiment 2 more verbs will be recast for a specific number of sessions.


Dr. Proctor-Williams is now accepting participants for the study. Participants who qualify for the study are 4-6 year old children with histories of language problems and 3-4 year olds with typical language development. Up to $100 is available for participation. Parents who are interested in enrolling a child in the study or would like more information can contact Dr. Proctor-Williams at 423-439-7187, , or Ashley Rice at 432-439-4711,