Archive for category ESL
Grammatical Assessment of Bilingual Children in English
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in assessment, bilingual, child bilingualism, child language impairment, developmental language disorder, English, ESL on July 29, 2020
We’ve had a paper out for a couple of years now and I’ve been meaning to blog about it, but for some reason other things have taken priority. The question that we addressed in this study is the extent to which English assessment of children who are Spanish-English bilinguals would be useful for identification of DLD.Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in between-language, bilingual, bilingualism, child bilingualism, ESL, Uncategorized on April 17, 2018
Recently, I participated in a roundtable discussion through TCU on the topic of dynamic assessment and translanguaging. My topic was dynamic assessment. But, I was really struck by the notion of translanguaging.
It was an interesting discussion about how to provide support to children in both languages and allow them to have access to both of their languages to maximize opportunities for language interaction. You might want to read more about translanguaging using the link above and also here. I think that translanguaging is a powerful way to support linguistic development and access in bilingual youth.
Prepositions are hard for ELLs
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in bilingual, child bilingualism, English, ESL, grammar on June 23, 2017
At least harder than I’d thought. Read the rest of this entry »
Language Experience and Outcomes
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in bilingual, bilingualism, child bilingualism, English, ESL, Spanish on October 13, 2016
We do know (or I hope we know) that exposure to two languages is not bad for us and it could even be good for us. For kids who are in the process of learning two languages, the challenges that bilingualism poses can be desirable. Yes, learning two languages can be hard, but that’s when we develop those brain muscles (figuratively speaking). What happens as children start school and experience changes in the language they hear? What happens as the demands become greater? Read the rest of this entry »
Bilingual AND Special Education: YES!
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in child bilingualism, child language impairment, ESL, Uncategorized on September 15, 2016
When I was a practicing SLP I remember sitting in IEP meetings and arguing for BOTH speech-language therapy services AND ESL for bilingual or ELL children who had speech and/or language impairment. Often, I would be told that, no, their district POLICY said that we would have to pick that it would be EITHER ESL or SLP services but NOT BOTH! Read the rest of this entry »
Easy and Hard Sounds
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in between-language, bilingual, ESL, phonological, speech impairment, Uncategorized on August 5, 2016
We have a new paper looking at the relationship between children’s dual-language exposure and age of English acquisition on production of early- middle- and late-acquired sounds. Previous work by Leah Fabiano-Smith & Brian Goldstein shows that children are most accurate on early developing sounds compared to later developing sounds. Further, bilinguals show the same pattern although they may be a little less accurate as a group compared to monolingual English and monolingual Spanish peers. In the current study, we wanted to explore the influence of children’s experience in Spanish and English and how this experience might influence sound production. We were also interested in how parent and teacher ratings lined up with children’s production accuracy given their level of experience in each language. Read the rest of this entry »
Are dominance and proficiency the same?
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in child bilingualism, ESL on January 18, 2015
This is a question that comes up from time to time, and I see some people using it interchangeably, I see this in the scientific literature and I see it in every day conversations and practice. So, what gives?
Let’s first look at the dictionary definitions:
Dominant: (from the learners dictionary by Merriam-Webster)
1 [more dominant; most dominant]
: more important, powerful, or successful than most or all others
- The company is now dominant in the market
2 most common
- The dominant [=prevailing] language/religion of the country
3 biology : causing or relating to a characteristic or condition that a child will have if one of the child’s parents has it
- dominant genes
Proficient: (also from the learners dictionary)
[more proficient; most proficient]
: good at doing something : skillful
- a proficient reader
- He has become very proficient at computer programming.
- She is proficient in two foreign languages.
So, these aren’t exactly the same. In the work that I have done in language and language impairment, my collaborators and I try to distinguish between the two. Why does it matter?
I think especially in research and clinical work in language impairment it’s important to separate out the two. Children with typical development may demonstrate dominance in one language or another (or both), and at the same time they may have high levels of proficiency in both their languages. That is, they can be highly proficient users of both their languages at yet have MORE dominance in one of their languages.
In contrast children with language impairment demonstrate low proficiency in both their languages (not in every domain of course, they may show relative strengths in some aspects of language). At the same time they can be stronger (within their own performance) in their first language or in their second language or in both of their languages.
I think we can get into trouble when we assume that low proficiency in one language means dominance in the other. It doesn’t. We CAN have kids who show low proficiency in L1 and high proficiency in L2 and are dominant in L2. We can also have kids who show low proficiency in both and have dominance in only one language. We can have those who have high proficiency in both and be more dominance in one. The danger with conflating the two terms (and therefore measures) is that it could lead to bad decisions.
If the assumption is that a child with low proficiency in one language is therefore dominant in the other, it could lead to delaying of services (RTI, speech or language intervention, reading intervention) if they have a true impairment. It might be assumed that low proficiency in one language equals low proficiency overall, and this assumption might lead to a diagnosis of a language impairment even if the child actually does NOT have an impairment (and is actually highly proficient in the other language). If a child is not very proficient in either language, this may lead people to say something like, they have no language (I totally hate that, unless they are in a coma, I don’t know how this could be). This assumption might lead to giving parents suggestions like only using one language because the child has incomplete language acquisition in both. Like monolingualism would be the cure for language impairment. UGH!
So, don’t get rid of one term. We need both proficiency (to measure how good children are at each language) and dominance (to determine which is the stronger of the two languages for a given bilingual child).
Receptive-Expressive Gaps in Bilinguals with LI
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in child bilingualism, ESL, language impairment, vocabulary on October 14, 2014
In a new paper in the area of semantics, we did an analysis of a group of bilingual 7 to 9;11 year old children with and without language impairment. We were interested in seeing if children with LI showed similar patterns on receptive and expressive semantics tasks compared to bilingual children with typical development. In a previous study, we examined younger (preschool age) bilingual children on expressive and receptive semantics items on the BESOS. In that study, described here, we found that in English, children showed higher standard scores receptivity compared to the scores they were able to achieve expressively when they had very little English exposure. We proposed that it was important to understand this potential for a receptive-expressive gap in children with LI. Read the rest of this entry »
Dynamic Assessment of Bilingual Children in English
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in child bilingualism, ESL, grammar, language impairment, narratives on August 17, 2014
Previously, I talked about some exciting work that was being done in the area of dynamic assessment. This work together is looking at how to apply dynamic assessment to ELLs. We have our own contribution to make as well. The results give SLPs another potential strategy to use to determine whether children have language difference or language impairment. What’s really cool about this is that it works with children who know just a little English.
Really? Can kids with Language Impairment or _____ Learn TWO Languages?
Posted by Elizabeth D. Peña in child bilingualism, ESL, language impairment, research, vocabulary on June 19, 2014
Is the earth round, really? It seems flat to me. I’ve been in many places in the world and I haven’t heard about anyone falling off it and so from my own logic and experience it appears the earth is flat. This is how evidence goes it seems and I find myself getting frustrated but I do try to understand the logic of disbelief– even in light of evidence. Yes, the earth is round (a sphere actually) and children with language impairment and those with other disabilities that affect language learning CAN (and do) become bilingual. No, they do not become MORE delayed. Read the rest of this entry »