Posts Tagged speech
I’ve often maintained that eliciting speech samples for phonological analysis (whether single or word or connected speech) does not take that much longer for bilinguals than it does for monolinguals (it is somewhat longer, for sure). What does take longer, however, are the analyses of those samples. Given that there are almost no standardized assessments for phonological skills of bilinguals, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) must complete a set of broad and deep analyses.
These analyses consist of both independent and relational analyses. Independent analyses are those that do not relate the child’s productions to the adult target. For example, the clinician should note the child’s phonetic inventory (arranged by place and manner or articulation) listing all the sounds that the child produces whether it’s produced correctly or not. So, even is a child produces [t] instead of /k/, the child’s ability to produce [t] should be indicated. After all, for this analysis, it’s what the child can/did do. Other independent analyses might include:
- syllable types (e.g., CV, CVC, etc.)
- syllable shapes (how syllable types combine—CV$CV)
- word length (e.g., number of syllables per word)
Relational analyses are those that compare the child’s production to the adult target and might include:
- Overall consonant accuracy
- Consonant accuracy by sound class
- Vowel accuracy
- Error types using a SODA format: Substitutions, Omissions, Distortions, Additions
- Percentage-of-occurrence of phonological patterns (e.g., final consonant deletion, stopping)
- Contextual effects (where does the error occur—initial position, final position, both?)
- Stimulability (can the child produce the target after a model?)
SLPs are often overwhelmed initially by the number of analyses I suggest, as there are issues of time and efficiency. I understand and appreciate those issues. These analyses should be thought of as a buffet. Choose the ones that are most satisfying to you. However, I believe that completing this array of analyses leads to more reliable and valid diagnoses and link clearly and specifically to intervention targets.
I was recently interviewed for a national parents’ magazine on bilingualism (if it gets published, I’ll provide the reference and link). The reporter was asking a relatively general question on language development in bilinguals compared to monolinguals. First, I found it difficult to crystallize a complex issue into, literally, a 7-minute interview. Second, it reinforced my notion about the myths about language development in bilinguals that still prevail. When I responded that there is research to show that there are cases in which bilinguals can be more advanced than monolinguals, she interrupted me citing the fact that pediatricians tell parents that development in bilinguals is slower than monolinguals. I interjected, “yes, but…it depends.” It depends on the age of the child, how they came to acquire the two languages, how much input they receive, and output they produce, etc. I know issues about proficiency have been written about on this blog before so I won’t repeat them here. I will say, however, that we have looked at this issue in terms of speech sound development, and I will write about that in an upcoming post. Suffice it to say that these variables clearly influence language development in bilinguals. I tried, without much success, to tell the reporter this. Anyway, we do know that bilingual children might show language skills that are more advanced, less advanced, or commensurate in comparison to monolinguals. So, how does this relate to speech sound development in this group of children?