Elizabeth D. Peña
I'm a professor of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Texas at Austin. I study bilingualism in children mainly, but have branched out to look at bilingualism in young adults. In the area of bilingualism I'm mainly interested in how people who have exposure to more than one language lexicalize, organize, and access words in each of their languages and how exposure to one language influences performance in the other language. I'm also interested in measurement and assessment practices. Here, my focus is on developing ways to determine language differences vs. language disorders.
Is speech sound development related to grammatical development in bilinguals? In a new paper by Cooperson, Bedore & Peña in Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, we report on a couple of studies where we explored the relationship between children’s articulation accuracy in Spanish and English as related to grammatical production in both languages. Read the rest of this entry »
Another movie I got to see at SXSW was Punk Syndrome. It’s a documentary about a Finnish punk band called, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät. The film follows the daily lives of the musicians in the band, who are developmentally delayed. Their developmental delays are not specifically the focus of the movie. Rather the focus is on their daily lives, interactions with each other and with family and caregivers. I think a strength of the film is that it allows the audience to see this group of people in their every day lives– disagreements, falling in love, negotiating, planning and so on– activities to which we can all relate. Read the rest of this entry »
This week was SXSW in Austin. I usually try to go see as many movies as possible. It was a lot of fun running from one independent movie to another, but I did have to get some work done so my time was somewhat divided. One of the films I really enjoyed was “Sound City” directed by David Grohl. The movie is about the history of a recording studio in Van Nuys, CA. Nirvana recorded their breakthrough album, Nevermind, at Sound City, along with many rock and roll greats including, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, and many others. I enjoyed listening to the clips of music (and there were a lot) as well as their stories from their years at the studio. The people who recorded there and the folks who ran the studio obviously had a lot of good memories and high regard for each other. Read the rest of this entry »
Last June, I gave a keynote on dynamic assessment at SRCLD and presented recently analyzed data using DA with bilingual kindergarteners. We are currently in the process of writing the paper on this and hope to submit it soon for publication. If all goes well with the review and revision process maybe in a year it’ll be accepted and then a few months after that before it is available. Meanwhile however, we’re not the only ones to take on this question. So, here’s a summary of what I’ve found recently. Read the rest of this entry »
I’d mentioned last week that I was starting to learn more about codeswitching through collaborative research with Kai Greene. We have a new paper in Child Language Teaching & Therapy where we explore the use of code-mixing in children with and without language impairment. We were interested in how many kids switched to their other language during testing, if their switching was related to language dominance, and how successful they were when they did switch. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in just for fun on January 6, 2013
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals.
Anyway, 14,000 views for us is A LOT. We want to thank you all for reading, for sharing, and for being passitionate about bilingualism. Keep on sharing and keep the comments and questions coming.
The short answer is yes. But, the longer answer is more interesting I think. It’s well-known that we can understand more words than we can express. Generally though, there are strong associations between receptive and expressive language, the more words you understand the more words you can express. We see normal receptive-expressive gaps in early language development, later development, as well as in mature learners. As adults, there are words that we can recognize by context in reading for example, but don’t use them expressively or don’t consistently recall them. On standardized tests however, these inherent differences between the two kinds of tasks are controlled. We can compare performance on expressive and receptive tasks through use of standardized scores often using a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. Large receptive-expressive discrepancies where receptive knowledge is much stronger than expressive knowledge can be an indicator of language impairment. How does this work in bilinguals?
So, I don’t know much about codeswitching, but I’ve been forced to learn more about it because one of my students, the recently graduated Dr. Kai Greene is really interested in the topic. So, he’s taught me a lot. Anyway, some things that are interesting about these switches is that it takes skill. Kids may switch to fill in a word if they don’t know it in the language they are using, but they almost always use it correctly– so, a noun for a noun, a verb for a verb. This means they have to know a lot about both languages in order to monitor both. Indeed, those who are most bilingual, we’ve found are the most skilled, and switching tends to be directional. This means that children who are dominant in one language will switch more often when using their weaker or non-dominant language. Also, code-switching is not an indicator of language impairment.
So, why this random post on codeswitching? Read the rest of this entry »
It’s interesting to understand bilingual language acquisition in the context of existing theories. This helps to better understand and interpret findings, and how well findings fit (or don’t) a theory helps to refine it. When there is an accumulation of findings that fit well, then we can better predict what might be going on even if there is little data.