Language Sample Analysis Project

Part 1:  Transcription of Language Sample 
Your sample video: (“Typical conversation with my 3-year-old”)

  1. Watch the video linked above at least three times before you begin transcribing. Transcribe (write down) a complete verbatim account of everything that is said by all participants in the video conversation. Use transcription guidelines template below.

Transcription Guidelines:

  • An utterance is a unit of measurement of spoken language, similar to sentences in written language, but not always the same. Rules for segmenting running speech into utterances:
    • An utterance typically (though not always) contains a subject + verb, expresses a single thought, and is separated from other utterances by pauses or another speaker’s turns. Younger children may have phrase utterances: “shiny shoes!”
    • Intonation: falling intonation signifies the end of an utterance.
    • Pause: a pause of 2 seconds typically indicates a separate utterance.
    • If an utterance contains more than TWO independent clauses (i.e., two parts that each have a subject and verb) connected by the conjunctions “and, but, or,” it should be transcribed and coded as two separate utterances. There should be no more than two independent clauses in each utterance.
      • Example: “My mom fed me breakfast and she washed my hair and she made my bed and she read me a story and she gave me a dog” would be divided into
        • My mom fed me breakfast and she washed my hair
        • (and) she made my bed and she read me a story
        • (and) she gave me a dog
      • Every utterance needs to be transcribed on a separate line, even if the speaker is the same
      • Each line should be numbered consecutively. (You will refer to specific lines of the transcript when completing your analysis.) Number both child and adult utterances.
      • Use “C” and “A” to identify who is speaking.
      • Transcribe all utterances exactly as they are said, even when they are said incorrectly
      • If the speaker pauses in the middle of an utterance, indicate so by writing “(pause)” at the point in the utterance where the pause occurred. Do not use “…” and do not use a new line to indicate a pause.
      • If a pause is longer than 2 seconds, depending on context, you may begin a new utterance
      • If you cannot hear / understand all or part of the utterance, transcribe as much as you can, and write (XXX) where the utterance is unintelligible.

Transcription template:
Age of child:
Context of interaction:
Key: A= Adult; C= Child; XX= unintelligible utterance; / = separation between morphemes for MLU count

Utterance #
(add as many lines as you need)
Speaker Utterance Child only: Intelligible (all words except one)? Yes/No Child only: Number of Morphemes (see guide below)
1 C We’/ re  sitt / ing at the bench Yes 7
2 A What did we just get done doing    

Part 2: Analysis of language sample  

  • Calculate the MLU for this child based on your transcription and name the language stage that this child demonstrates according to MLU (use Berko Gleason & Ratner p. 116-117). Important for this child: in cases where the speaker demonstrates disfluency by repeating the same word multiple times, only count this word once for the purposes of MLU. Exceptions include word repetition for emphasis (e.g. “no-no-no!” counts as 3 morphemes, “I just-just-just ran here.” counts as 4 morphemes)
  • Total # morphemes (child) =
  • Total number of utterances (child) =
  • MLU =
  • Language stage according to Brown =

2.2 List Brown’s morphemes that are present in this language sample and discuss whether they are used correctly. (Use Berko Gleason & Ratner p. 120)

Child’s full utterance (copy all utterances from transcription template) Brown’s morpheme(s) observed (If observed) Is the morpheme used correctly? If used incorrectly / missing where required, what morpheme is missing?

2.3 Are there any Brown’s morphemes remaining that you did not observe in this sample because there was no opportunity for the child to produce them? Pick one morpheme that you did not hear in this sample. How could you structure this situation to increase the chance of her producing an additional morpheme?

  • Name and give examples of the parts of speech that you observe in this language sample. List at least three of each category, unless fewer than three were observed across the sample.
Part of speech Examples Utterance number where these are  found
Pronoun (including possessive pronouns)    


  • Give examples of the following sentence modalities in the transcribed sample, if observed: statement, negative statement, single clause question – Yes/No, single clause question – Wh, negative question, long-distance question. (Berko Gleason & Ratner, pp. 124-126)
Sentence from transcript (ad d as many rows as needed) Sentence modality


  • Give examples of the following communicative intents in the transcribed sample, if observed: spontaneous comment, informational question, direct request, indirect request, response to question, topic maintenance, turn-taking.


Pragmatic behavior / communicative intent Utterance # Example or “none” if not observed
Respond to questions    
Make direct requests    
Make indirect requests    
Describe events / comment    
Follow instructions    
Maintain / expand ongoing topic    
Make information requests    
Clarify for the listener / other conversational repair    
Use language for imaginative play    


  • Based on all of your responses in Part 2, does this child broadly appear to be functioning at an age-appropriate level? Support your decision with at least two observations each in the area of semantics, morphology, syntax and pragmatics. If you did not observe a particular language skill, ask yourself whether there was an opportunity for the child to demonstrate it before you consider it an error.

Possible response formats:
“In the area of semantics, the child demonstrated  ___________________ . This skill is typical for children age _______________. This observation suggests the child is functioning at age level.”
“In the area of semantics, the child demonstrated errors in _______________. This skill is typical for children age ________. This observation suggests the child may be functioning below age level.”

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