Archive for January 17th, 2010

Starting and Building a Second Language

We have a fairly new article accepted for publication in the International Journal of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education. Even though it’s not yet published it’s available through the Journal’s forthcoming articles list.

As part of an NIH funded project, we screened about 750 children (actually we now have screened 1200 kiddos, but when we wrote the article were still in the process of screening so the analysis is based on the numbers to that point–still it’s a lot of kids). We developed a screener based on the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment that we’d previously worked on. The screener is called the Bilingual English Spanish Oral Screening (get it? get it??).  It takes about 15-20 minutes to give in both languages (compared to the full version of the test this is about 1/4 of the time). The BESOS includes morphosyntax and semantics sections. If you want to know more about the development of the BESA (from which the BESOS is derived see here and here for morphosyntax; and here for semantics. (And yes, the BESA (but not the screener) includes phonology and pragmatics).

Anyway, in this study we gave the screener to all the kids regardless of whether they thought they didn’t know English or Spanish. Children were preschool and kindergarten age (between 4;6 and 5;6). We did stop testing a subsection if they gave us no response to 5 items in a row (we’re not totally cruel, it’s just that sometimes kids know more than they think– more than their parents and teachers think too!). We were interested in seeing what factors were associated with knowing something, anything in a language. We also wanted to know what factors were associated with higher scores. Read the rest of this entry »

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