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Maria Chiara Levorato

Bio: Maria Chiara Levorato is an academic researcher from University of Padua. The author has contributed to research in topics: Reading comprehension & Literal and figurative language. The author has an hindex of 8, co-authored 26 publications receiving 436 citations.

Papers
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TL;DR: This work contrasted this global elaboration hypothesis with a partially alternative one, the acquisition via exposure hypothesis, according to which the frequency of exposure of children to idioms is the main factor explaining their acquisition and production and showed that familiarity per se does not adequately explain how children acquire a figurative competence.
Abstract: Several studies have argued that children under the ages of nine or ten years rarely comprehend figurative language and therefore interpret it literally. Cacciari & Levorato (1989). showed that when idioms are presented within a rich informational environment, children are able to grasp the figurative sense at the age of seven, and also that children are less able to produce idioms than to comprehend them. In three experiments involving 264 children (whose age ranged from 6;9 to 11;9), we contrasted this global elaboration hypothesis with a partially alternative one, the acquisition via exposure hypothesis, according to which the frequency of exposure of children to idioms is the main factor explaining their acquisition and production. Results showed that familiarity (i.e. frequency of exposure) plays a minor role and only for children who are not yet able to use contextual information. Familiarity per se does not adequately explain how children acquire a figurative competence. A tentative model is proposed in order to account for figurative competence acquisition.

164 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Results showed that both long-term and working memory predicted unique and independent variance in listening comprehension after controlling for verbal abilities, with working memory explaining additional variance over and above short-term memory.
Abstract: The current study analyzed the relationship between text comprehension and memory skills in preschoolers. We were interested in verifying the hypothesis that memory is a specific contributor to listening comprehension in preschool children after controlling for verbal abilities. We were also interested in analyzing the developmental path of the relationship between memory skills and listening comprehension in the age range considered. Forty-four, 4-year-olds (mean age = 4 years and 6 months, SD = 4 months) and 40, 5-year-olds (mean age = 5 years and 4 months, SD = 5 months) participated in the study. The children were administered measures to evaluate listening comprehension ability (story comprehension), short-term and working memory skills (forward and backward word span), verbal intelligence and receptive vocabulary. Results showed that both short-term and working memory predicted unique and independent variance in listening comprehension after controlling for verbal abilities, with working memory explaining additional variance over and above short-term memory. The predictive power of memory skills was stable in the age range considered. Results also confirm a strong relation between verbal abilities and listening comprehension in 4- and 5-year-old children.

119 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Investigating idiom comprehension in school-age Italian children with different reading comprehension skills showed that the ability to understand a text predicted children's understanding of idioms in context, and improvements in children's comprehension skills might produce an increase in figurative language understanding.

74 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, a systematic review aimed at identifying early predictors of developmental language disorder (DLD) in preschool children, including delay in gesture production, receptive and/or expressive vocabulary, syntactic comprehension, or word combination up to 30 months.
Abstract: Background. Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is frequent in childhood and may have long-term sequelae. By employing an evidence-based approach, this scoping review aims at identifying (a) early predictors of DLD; (b) the optimal age range for the use of screening and diagnostic tools; (c) effective diagnostic tools in preschool children. Methods. We considered systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and primary observational studies with control groups on predictive, sensitivity and specificity values of screening and diagnostic tools and psycholinguistic measures for the assessment of DLD in preschool children. We identified 37 studies, consisting of 10 systematic reviews and 27 primary studies. Results. Delay in gesture production, receptive and/or expressive vocabulary, syntactic comprehension, or word combination up to 30 months emerged as early predictors of DLD, a family history of DLD appeared to be a major risk factor, and low socioeconomic status and environmental input were reported as risk factors with lower predictive power. Optimal time for screening is suggested between age 2 and 3, for diagnosis around age 4. Because of the high variability of sensitivity and specificity values, joint use of standardized and psycholinguistic measures is suggested to increase diagnostic accuracy. Conclusions. Monitoring risk situations and employing caregivers’ reports, clinical assessment and multiple linguistic measures are fundamental for an early identification of DLD and timely interventions.

29 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article investigated children's ability to complete idiom fragments embedded in stories and found that less-skilled comprehenders provided more literal completions than skilled comprehenders who, in turn, provided more idiomatic completions.
Abstract: The aim of the present study was to investigate children's ability to complete idiom fragments embedded in stories. Previous studies found that children's and preadolescents' ability to comprehend a text was related to their ability to understand an idiomatic expression (Cain, Oakhill, & Lemmon, 2005; Levorato, Nesi, & Cacciari, 2004; Nippold, Moran, & Schwarz, 2001). Comprehension and production processes share a vast amount of conceptual and lexical knowledge. Hence, we hypothesized that children's text reading comprehension skills also might be related to their ability to produce nonliteral completions. Skilled and less-skilled text comprehenders (age range from 7.4 to 10.3) were presented with short stories that ended with an idiomatic fragment (e.g., "Paul broke the . . ." for the idiom "break the ice") and were asked to complete the story. The children's completions were coded as Literal, Idiomatic, or Figurative, as in previous studies (Levorato & Cacciari, 1992, 1995). The results showed that children's ability to understand a text was related to their ability to complete idiomatic fragments figuratively. Less-skilled comprehenders provided more literal completions than skilled comprehenders who, in turn, provided more idiomatic completions.

25 citations


Cited by
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TL;DR: Results show that participants harassed the female interaction partner more when they were exposed to a legitimacy, distinctiveness, or prototypicality threat than to no threat, which is interpreted as supporting a social identity account of gender harassment.
Abstract: Two laboratory experiments investigated the hypothesis that threat to male identity would increase the likelihood of gender harassment. In both experiments, using the computer harassment paradigm, male university students (N=80 in Experiment 1, N=90 in Experiment 2) were exposed to different types of identity threat (legitimacy threat and threat to group value in Experiment 1 and distinctiveness threat and prototypicality threat in Experiment 2) or to no threat and were then given the opportunity to send pornographic material to a virtual female interaction partner. Results show that (a) participants harassed the female interaction partner more when they were exposed to a legitimacy, distinctiveness, or prototypicality threat than to no threat; (b) this was mainly true for highly identified males; and (c) harassment enhanced postexperimental gender identification. Results are interpreted as supporting a social identity account of gender harassment.

350 citations

Book
16 Aug 2018
TL;DR: This book provides a pioneering introduction to heritage languages and their speakers, written by one of the founders of this new field, and offers analysis of resilient and vulnerable domains in heritage languages, with a special emphasis on recurrent structural properties that occur across multiple heritage languages.
Abstract: This book provides a pioneering introduction to heritage languages and their speakers, written by one of the founders of this new field Using examples from a wide range of languages, it covers all the main components of grammar, including phonetics and phonology, morphology and morphosyntax, semantics and pragmatics, and shows easy familiarity with approaches ranging from formal grammar to typology, from sociolinguistics to child language acquisition and other relevant aspects of psycholinguistics The book offers analysis of resilient and vulnerable domains in heritage languages, with a special emphasis on recurrent structural properties that occur across multiple heritage languages It is explicit about instances where, based on our current knowledge, we are unable to reach a clear decision on a particular claim or analytical point, and therefore provides a much-needed resource for future research

275 citations

01 Jan 2014
TL;DR: Investigation of the phonological length of utterance in native Kannada speaking children of 3 to 7 years age revealed increase inPMLU score as the age increased suggesting a developmental trend in PMLU acquisition.
Abstract: Phonological mean length of utterance (PMLU) is a whole word measure for measuring phonological proficiency. It measures the length of a child’s word and the number of correct consonants. The present study investigated the phonological length of utterance in native Kannada speaking children of 3 to 7 years age. A total of 400 subjects in the age range of 3-7 years participated in the study. Spontaneous speech samples were elicited from each child and analyzed for PMLU as per the rules suggested by Ingram. Mann-Whitney U test and Kruskal Wallis test were employed to compare the differences between the means of PMLU scores across the gender and the age respectively. The result revealed increase in PMLU score as the age increased suggesting a developmental trend in PMLU acquisition. No statistically significant differences were observed between the means of PMLU scores across the gender.

230 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Structural equation modeling results showed that listening comprehension is directly predicted by working memory, grammatical knowledge, inference, and theory of mind and is indirectly predicted by attention, vocabulary, and comprehension monitoring.

199 citations