The workshop on assessment of bilinguals in Gregynog was really interesting. There were researchers, students, and practitioners representing several disciplines including: speech-language pathology, psychology, linguistics, and reading. They were from different countries including: England, Wales, United States, Spain, Ireland, Netherlands, Greece among others. Many of these counties have official bilingual language policies (e.g., the Basque Country of Spain and Wales). One of the things that really struck me was that the challenges involved in assessment of bilinguals are very similar to what we face in the U.S. Somehow, I’d always assumed that the Europeans had it all figured out, especially since bilingualism is much more common than it is in the U.S.Alas, no. I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or not.
On the one hand, it make me feel better because then I feel that I have company. There are other people out there, smarter people, people who work with bilingual communities who are struggling with similar issues. How to test bilinguals, what to test, what language(s) to use, how to put them together, what the test should include and so on.
On the other hand, it makes me feel worse because there’s no one who has it all figured out. Where I can say– look, there, this person or SLPs in this country have it all figured out, it works, and that’s what we should do too!
In the end though, I guess it’s good to be in good company. I think that we all can learn from each other. And, we can learn different ways we are attempting to solve some of these problems. We have made progress since I’ve been in the field. Not as much as I would like, but progress nonetheless.