Measuring productive syntactic abilities in Mandarin-speaking children in Taiwan

Hin Tat Cheung, Chia Hui Lin, Chien Ju Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aimed to develop a fine-grained measure for evaluating syntactic abilities in Mandarin-speaking children for educational and clinical purposes as a supplement to MLU. Method: In total, 99 typically developing children, aged 2;0 to 5;11, living in Taipei, Taiwan, participated in this study. Spontaneous language samples were elicited in free-play situations. The first 100 intelligible utterances were coded with a newly developed scheme: the Mandarin Assessment of Productive Syntax-Revised (MAPS-R). For the examination of concurrent validity, MLU was also computed. Results: Significant age-related differences were observed in both MLU and MAPS-R scores. Strong correlations were found between MLU and MAPS-R scores, confirming the validity of MAPS-R as a measure of syntactic development. MAPS-R further revealed that Mandarin-speaking children expanded noun phrases with the general classifier ‘GE’ very early on, followed by a locative expression. Verb expansions began with resultative complements and aspect markers. Sentences with complex predication structures, such as serial verbs/pivotal sentences, were still not widely used when the MLU value is below 4.5. Conclusions: The study showed that MAPS-R is a reliable and valid measure that can provide a rich profile of the syntactic development of Mandarin-speaking children. It can be a useful reference for speech therapists to set a baseline for developing language intervention plans and to monitor their outcome.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Children
  • Mandarin
  • language development
  • language measurement
  • syntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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