Posts Tagged bilingual education

Bilingual AND Special Education: YES!

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 »


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Bilingual Symposium

On Monday, we will have three guest speakers: Ellen Bialystok, Karen Emmorey, and Claude Goldenberg at our Bilingual Symposium here at UT hosted by the Don and Sybil Harrington Foundation and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, UT Austin. I know that you all can’t drop everything and come to Austin on Monday morning, but you can watch it livestream. Isn’t technology great!? I think this is a real advantage of being at the Moody College of Communication. Hope you can join us.

Update: you can view the 3 sessions on the HABLA lab youtube channel.

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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
Restrepo et al., 2013
Simon-Cereijido et al., 2013
Simon-Cereijido & Gutierrez-Clellen, 2014

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If we know more why don’t people act like it?

So last time I posted on the blog, I talked about how we know a lot more this year.  We’ve learned so much more about bilingualism and the positive effects of bilingualism on children’s learning on preservation of language capabilities for people as they age. At the time I wrote that I was feeling rather pessimistic but I ended up writing a post that was optimistic.  So today I’m going to touch on the pessimistic side. Read the rest of this entry »

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Catching up despite divided time

This article in the El Paso Times along with the post in language log on word gaps by SES brought to mind arguments about teaching English as a second language and the assumption that more is better. In bilingual education, there is ample evidence that children who learn in dual language environments can and do “catch up” to their monolingual peers on measures of language. Yet, well-meaning school personnel persist in telling parents to switch to English because that will help children learn English better. It doesn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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Maggie Funk: Why can’t we get bilingual education right? | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Opinion: Viewpoints

Maggie Funk: Why can’t we get bilingual education right? | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Opinion: Viewpoints

Why indeed? If we know that there are better second language alternatives than English only then wouldn’t logic dictate that we use them? This is a constant frustration to me that folks pay more attention to opinion (and much seems to be paranoid, reactive, illogical opinion) than to facts. At least when it comes to bilingual education. If I hear one more time the story that, “well, my grandfather came to this country and learned English with no help, or bilingual education” I will SCREAM.

I think that more people need to look at the facts before deciding what works and what doesn’t. And the facts can’t be based on anecdotes but on larger n, prospective research. Anecdotes are too easy to distort. AGHHHH. Okay, I screamed– couldn’t help it.

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Does bilingual education REALLY cost more?

I’m doubtful. What can I say. But, every time I turn around it seems that yet another school district is cutting bilingual education. For me, it doesn’t add up. The most recent story I saw is one in Florida where Orange County Schools will cut programs for more than 1,000 children. Officials are said to have cited class size and time allowed for special language programs.

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Building Community

Two articles I read this week highlighted the power and role in developing communication across cultures bilingualism can have. While the two articles are otherwise unrelated they struck a chord. Read the rest of this entry »

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