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2Chapter 5 Bilingual Children With SLI: Theories, Research and Future Directions

Bilingualism and specic language impairment (SLI) are at the crossroads of linguistic and psycholinguistic accounts of language. This chapter merges theoretical and research accounts of both areas to explain the limited information available on bilingual children with SLI. The SLI is a developmental language disorder characterized by primary decits in language, not explained by sensory, gross neurological damage, emotional, or cognitive decits (Leonard, 1998, 2009). Language difculties of children with SLI tend to occur on grammatical aspects, although several language aspects can be compromised, such as dif- culties in word learning and retrieval, semantic development, and phonological working memory (e.g., Dollaghan & Campbell, 1998; Edwards & Lahey, 1998; Gray, 2003, 2004, 2005). This chapter will discuss how bilingualism interfaces with SLI from the theoretical point of Dynamic Systems Theory (DST; Herdina & Jessner, 2002). We then address theories of SLI from linguistic and processing accounts, and review research evidence of SLI crosslinguistically and from bilingual populations. We conclude with some future directions.