It’s been a busy year., and we have more to come. This year one of our big accomplishments was to launch the BESA, a speech and language test for children 4 to 7. It was a long project, but we are very satisfied with the test and how well it works to identify speech and language impairment in bilingual children. A serous problem in the field has been that there are so few instruments to properly identify impairments in bilinguals. There result is that these kids are assessed with instruments that have not been proven to work well with bilinguals. Worse some may overidentify children as having impairment when they are in the process of learning English as a second language. Another problem is that these kids can be missed altogether. Sometimes district personnel will wait for the child to have enough English to test them. Waiting can result in falling further behind because services that might have helped are not provided.
We’ve also accomplished much in the area of research with bilingual populations. We aim to better understand bilingual development in children with and without language impairment. This last year we branched out more in other related domains including stuttering in bilinguals and relationships between grammar and articulation in bilinguals. Additionally, some of our work extends to looking at older bilingual children, specifically 7 to 10 years old.
What will we do this year? We plan to continue our work in bilingual language impairment. We have a screener we’ve developed for a couple of research projects that we use with kids from PK to 3rd grade. We hope to get this published and available for SLPs soon. We also have enough data to field test our extension of the BESA to the older kids we talked about. The test is way too long to use for other than research, but with some cutting we can have a version to test with bilinguals in other parts of the country that we can the make available to SLPs. This is probably a couple of years off.
Here’s to 2014! And to improving services to bilinguals.