Mean Length of Utterance-words in children with typical language development aged 4 to 5 years

Maria Emília Santos, Sofia Lynce, Sara Carvalho, Mariana Cacela, Ana Mineiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



PURPOSE: to analyze the Mean Length of Utterance-words (MLU-w) in children aged 4;00-5;05 years. METHODS: ninety two Portuguese children with normal development were observed: 49 girls and 43 boys, divided in age range groups of six months. A sample of 100 utterances produced in spontaneous discourse was collected from each child. The utterances were transcribed and analyzed.RESULTS: MLU-w was shown to vary between 4,5 to 5 words, progressing with age. This progression had been previously observed in US English and in Brazilian Portuguese speaking children, although in European Portuguese the number of words is overall a little higher. Both boys and girls performed similarly. Years of parents formal education showed some influence, but not in all age groups. Results showed a positive and significant correlation with a formal test for language assessment, both in comprehension as in language production. CONCLUSION: the MLU-w is a good measure of language development up to 5 years. The values found can serve as a normative reference for Portuguese children, but also in comparative studies on the development of spontaneous language.
Translated title of the contributionExtensão média do enunciado-palavras em crianças de 4 e 5 anos com desenvolvimento típico da linguagem
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1151
Number of pages9
JournalRevista CEFAC
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Language
  • Development
  • Children
  • Evaluation


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