Posts Tagged bilingual English Spanish assessment

Testing Speech in Languages other than English: What’s the Evidence?

There’s a new paper out in AJSLP by Sharynne McLeod and Sarah Verdon.  I think it’s a great resource for those of us who do bilingual assessment. Additionally, I think it’s an excellent example of how to review and select tests to use for diagnostic purposes. Over the last 10 or so years, there’s been a growing emphasis on evidence-based practice in speech-language pathology. We can’t simply use the tests we’ve always used because we are familiar and comfortable with them. We need to be able to justify our selections, and make our selections based on the best available scientific evidence. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , ,

1 Comment


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 »

, , , , , , , ,



Q: What is the age range of the BESA?
A: 4;0 to 6;11.
Q: How many children in the norming sample?
A: There are 874 children with typical development are included in the norms. A total of 420 children completed testing in both languages; 739 completed testing in Spanish and 632 children completed testing in English.
Q: Do you have to test in both languages on the BESA?
A: You can test in Spanish, English or both. Use the BIOS (bilingual input/output survey included) to determine whether to test one or both languages.
Q: How do I use the Bilingual Input Output Survey (BIOS)?
A: Use it to determine Spanish and English use at home and at school
Q: What’s the ITALK?
A: ITALK stands for Inventory to Assess Language Knowledge. There are parent and teacher versions of this questionnaire to identify areas of possible concern.
Q: Is the BESA normed only on Mexican-American children?
A: No, for Spanish about 16 different dialects of Spanish are represented; for English there are about 7 regional dialects represented. What’s more important is that we compared at the item level to ensure minimal bias on the basis of dialect.
Q: Is the pragmatics subtest normed?
A: No, this is done as an activity to gauge how the child interacts. You can use it as a warm-up and as an observation, and to supplement the standardized assessment.
Q: How long does it take to administer the BESA?
A: It depends on what you give. The morphosyntax and semantics subtests take 15-20 minutes each (per language); phonology takes 5-10 minutes (each language); and pragmatics takes about 5 minutes (you give it in one or both mixed depending on the child). So all together it takes about 1.5 hours to administer the WHOLE thing in BOTH languages.
Q: Are the subtests the same in each language?
A: No. We designed the test using a “dual-focus” approach where we used a test blueprint and generated items for each language based on the markers, structure, and culture of that language.
Q: Do you allow for codeswitching on the BESA?
A: Yes, on pragmatics and semantics children can respond in either language.
Q: What kind of scores do you get from the BESA?
A: Raw scores are converted to standard scores for each subtest and to age-equivalents. For the morphosyntax the cloze and sentence repetition subsections yield scaled scores which are summed before looking up the standard score that corresponds to the sum. For semantics, there are receptive and expressive subscores that are converted to scaled scores. These are summed and converted to a standard score. The best (Spanish or English) morphosyntax and best (Spanish or English) semantics standard scores are combined for a language index.

, , , , , , ,

1 Comment

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.


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.

Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , , ,


How should a child’s two languages be combined in bilingual clinical decision making?

Across both these posts, presentations, chapters and journal articles, I often say that we need to test children in both of their languages. I think that many of us know that. The question however is what do you do with that information once you’ve obtained it. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , ,


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 »

, , , , ,

1 Comment

Writing about BESA Validity

It’s almost the end of the month and I realize I haven’t posted anything since the 4th. It’s been a month of travel and family celebrations, weddings, major birthdays and so on. But, every morning (or at least most mornings) I’ve been getting up to work on the BESA. We’re inching our way closer to finishing up the chapters. The one I’m working on now is validity. Read the rest of this entry »

, , ,

1 Comment

Bilingual Language Impairment

This week I’ve been working on the background section for the BESA (cautiously moving toward publication, we’ll announce it when we have a publisher). I’m amazed at what we knew (or didn’t) when we first proposed the project. We wrote up the project proposal summarizing probably everything we knew about bilingual language impairment. At that time, most of the available reports were small n studies and case studies including those by Raquel Anderson. This gave us some indicators of what might be areas of difficulty for bilinguals with language impairment. We also looked to the then emerging crosslinguistic literature on language impairment. Most of this was based on work by Larry Leonard and colleagues.

Some of the work with bilinguals was on the errors that typical children made which overlapped with those made by monolingual English speakers with language impairment. So, we knew we needed to try to look for common errors and to compare children by level of language exposure. We were greatly influenced here by Valdes and Figueroa.

We didn’t know whether bilinguals with language impairment would look like monolinguals with language impairment or not. The answer is they do and they don’t. Language of exposure matters and the amount of exposure matters as well. It’s exciting to see how much more is known in the field and it’s great to see convergence of our findings and that in other labs including work by Kathy Kohnert and work by Laida Restrepo. We’re also starting to see convergence with other language pairs as well.

We continue to make progress, although sometimes it seems very little, but when I look back to where we started, I do see that we know a lot more.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Profiles of Bilingual Language Development and Impairment

Over the last few days I’ve gotten a number of questions about how to distinguish between language impairment and normal development in bilingual children probably due to the feature story on the UT Home page last week. It’s been great to hear from bilingual speech pathologists from around Texas and other areas of the country. I think that many are struggling to deal with the same questions that I’ve been pursuing with my colleagues. That is, how do we know what disorder looks like in bilinguals; and what can we do to document these distinctions? Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , , ,