Archive for April, 2009

The Stories Children Tell

In Two Languages

I like to use stories to teach children language skills and also to assess children’s language. Stories are a good way to observe children’s vocabulary, grammar, and overall organization. By early school age we expect children to tell complete stories including a statement of the problem, attempts to solve the problem, and a resolution. What’s especially useful about narrative analysis is that stories are highly familiar to children from many different backgrounds. At the same time, it’s important to note that across cultures various aspects and kinds of stories are emphasized. What about bilingual children’s stories?

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Dynamic Assessment with Bilingual Children

A particular challenge in assessment of bilingual children is to distinguish between differences in their language performance due to not knowing English and differences (or low scores) due to having language impairment or learning disabilities. I’ve been doing research in dynamic assessment for a number of years to explore whether this is an option for children from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds. Two of my research studies focused on evaluation of children’s naming skills and included bilingual children in a Head Start program: Peña, Quinn, & Iglesias (1992) and Peña, Iglesias, & Lidz (2001).

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Unfortunately, Lots of People Pay Attention to Ignorant Comments

I was getting ready to close up my computer for the night, but this letter to the editor  in my personalized google news page caught my eye. This was published in the Boston Globe. The writer rants about having to hear announcements in two languages and asserts that dual language holds back Spanish speakers (I do wonder if they specifically meant Spanish speakers or any speaker of another language). But, we know that knowing two languages does not in fact hold people back. I’ve written about this issue before here, here, and here. Some researchers have noted advantages of bilingualism with respect to cognitive control. We need to deal with facts and findings and not simply with unsupported opinion when dealing with bilingualism. But, it doesn’t always turn out that way. Just had to rant a bit.

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