Archive for category grammar

Prepositions are hard for ELLs

At least harder than I’d thought.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Planning for between-language transfer

I don’t think that transfer (between languages) just happens. I think you have to plan for it. So, what kind of things transfer? How can we use what we know about language transfer to maximize transfer between two languages? Last time I talked a little about a study we had recently published in Seminars in Speech and Language s (I encourage you to read the whole issue btw, it’s a very nice set of papers). We saw improvement in both languages in semantics and narratives. Some kids demonstrated gains in morphosyntax but others did not. Read the rest of this entry »

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Test Development, Item Bias, and the BESA

A couple of people have asked me whether the BESA can work with children in the Eastern US. Yes, I know I’m in Texas and the kids we see here are mainly speakers of Mexican Spanish. But, that doesn’t mean we didn’t collect data from kids in other parts of the country. Or that we didn’t collect data on kids who speak different dialects of Spanish. We collected data mainly in three places: California, Texas, and Pennsylvania. We also had data contributed from other places including Georgia, Utah and New Jersey. What was most important was that we included children who used conservative dialects of Spanish and radical dialects of Spanish. Also, for English speakers, we considered what dialect or variety of English they were learning including: Texas English, California English, African American English, general American English and so on. Why does this matter? Read the rest of this entry »

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Dynamic Assessment of Bilingual Children in English

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.

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Bilingual intervention: why not?

Bilingualism is finally being understood as what it is: a typical, positive and enriching form of living and of communicating in the United States. That is, an asset rather than a deficit. In many cities, dual language programs are flourishing and parents from multiple backgrounds are showing a commitment to bilingual language and literacy development. This is great news; however, there are still some concerns about bilingual education and bilingual children with language disorders. Are these children able to learn in a dual language classroom? Will they feel overwhelmed and confused? Will they manage to learn English? What should we recommend their parents?

We can now make some recommendations based on recent research conducted with Latino Spanish-speaking preschoolers with language impairment (Gutierrez-Clellen et al., 2012; Restrepo et al., 2013; Simon-Cereijido et al., 2013). And the recommendation is definitely bilingual! We found that the Spanish-speaking children with language disorders learned new English words and increased the length of their English phrases at a faster rate from interventions in Spanish and English, rather than in English only. Moreover, they also showed gains in Spanish.

In a separate study, we collaborated with Head Start teachers who taught our lessons in small groups to bilingual children with and without language impairment (Simon-Cereijido & Gutierrez-Clellen, 2014). All of the children, regardless of ability, made more progress than the bilingual children who did not receive the lessons and who were instructed in English only. Thus, a bilingual approach proved to be more beneficial than an English only approach for the children with language impairment.

This intense vocabulary and oral language intervention was developed following quality preschool evidence-based practices combined with a bilingual approach. Units of four 30-minute lessons were designed around bilingual picture books and every unit introduced the storybook, the new words, and the games in Spanish, the strong language of these children. The children, then, were ready to listen to the same information in English the following day. Days 3 and 4 alternated the languages. We explicitly designed several hands-on activities to repeatedly teach new, less frequent vocabulary (a weakness found in a great number of typical and atypical Latino children). We also designed “Talk and Play” games to facilitate the production of longer utterances. The “Talk and Play” activities used themes from the storybooks, familiar words, and a few toys that would allow the children to take “speaking” risks in a playful environment.

There is still much more to figure out about interventions and programs for bilingual children with language disorders. However, we do know more than before, and we should feel more and more confident to support bilingualism at home and at school.

Gutierrez-Clellen et al., 2012
http://ajslp.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=1757528
Restrepo et al., 2013
http://jslhr.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=1795805
Simon-Cereijido et al., 2013
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9042269&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0142716412000215
Simon-Cereijido & Gutierrez-Clellen, 2014
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13670050.2013.866630#.U0Btoqg7s6Y

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STUPID TRANSLATION

When working with bilingual children, it is a matter of course that one will need to translate from one language to another. Children who are English language learners may need instructions or directions translated so that they can know what to do. Curricula may need to be translated to maximize learning. Tests are also translated for ease of assessment of knowledge in a given domain. In the area of speech and language assessment however, translation is not the best option.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Bilingual English Spanish Assessment

We’re very excited to let everyone know that now, after a number of years of development and testing the BESA is available to speech-language pathologists.

WHAT IS THE BESA? WHAT DOES IT DO?

My co-authors and I developed the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment (BESA) in response to a critical need for valid, reliable instruments to assessment of speech and language ability in Spanish-English bilingual children. It focuses on children (ages 4 years, 0 months through 6 years, 11 months) who have varying levels of Spanish-English bilingualism. BESA was specifically developed to determine if speech and/or language errors observed in some young children were due to limited exposure to English or to a language impairment. We know that with time, children with typical development will learn a second language. But, at the same time, early intervention for children who have speech and language impairment is critical.

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BESA: Content validity

Last month I posted saying I was working on the validity analyses for the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment (BESA) that is hopefully soon to be published and available for clinicians. Today, I’ll tell you a little about the results. As many of you know, a number of years ago we (Vera Gutierrez-Clellen, Aquiles Iglesias, and I) got an NIH contract to explore typical and atypical speech and language development in Spanish-English bilingual children. Brian Goldstein and Lisa Bedore joined our team about a year later. The results of the 7 year project were to have a measure that would identify bilingual children with language impairment and phonological impairment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Testing bilinguals in English: Do we get any useful information?

I think the title says it all, and it’s an important question. There’s no doubt that the best way to determine if a child has a language impairment is to test them in their language. For bilinguals, that usually means two languages– in the US context, their home language and English. But, there aren’t enough bilingual speech-language pathologists available nationally; and bilingual speech-language pathologists don’t speak every language represented by the clients in their area. So, one of the questions we’ve had is whether we can get any useful information from testing children who are bilingual in English only. The quick answer is yes, no, and it depends. The longer answer follows. Read the rest of this entry »

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Phonology and Grammar in Bilingual Children

Is speech sound development related to grammatical development in bilinguals? In a new paper by Cooperson, Bedore & Peña in Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, we report on a couple of studies where we explored the relationship between children’s articulation accuracy in Spanish and English as related to grammatical production in both languages. Read the rest of this entry »

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