Posts Tagged morphosyntax

Reporting Bilingual Results

A question that often comes up about our research is how to apply it clinically. Much of our work is motivated by clinical questions and ultimately we aim to have some clinical solutions. It’s hard sometimes to move directly from research to application. Sometimes the clinical questions we pose have no or very little research available to move to the next step. So, we have to step back and do the more basic descriptive work to understand the nature of bilingualism and of bilingual impairment before we can then more forward again to answer questions about assessment and treatment. Now that we’ve done more work that has implications for assessment and have the BESA available for clinicians we can start to think about more direct application.

I wrote a year ago that we can get the most accurate indicator of language impairment on the BESA when we combine the best language across domains. So, we might combine Spanish morphosyntax with English semantics for a language composite. But, how do you write up results to incorporate into a report?

In a fairly recent paper, we provide some illustrations of how to use test information to make clinical decisions using the BESA. We go through the parent and teacher interview we use to determine possible concern about speech and language ability in each language and how we determine language use and exposure. Finally, we demonstrate how we combine and compare Spanish and English performance across each domain to determine language impairment. I hope these help in writing up your clinical reports.

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Bilingual Assessment and Language Dominance: We need to MOVE ON

A long time ago (about 25 to 30 years ago) I learned that bilingual children should be tested in their dominant or home language. The prevailing view then was that if you tested in the weaker language you wouldn’t be letting the child demonstrate what they knew. I think that this part is true. The other part of this perspective is that there wouldn’t be anything in the weaker language that wouldn’t be represented in the stronger language. I don’t believe that this part is true. It’s the 21st century… we know better.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Independent Research using the BESA

My collaborators and I did a number of studies of morphosyntax, semantics, phonology and pragmatics that informed development of the final version of the BESA. We’ve since done other studies using the BESA as an indicator of language impairment or phonological impairment. In addition, it is important to have independent studies of the BESA that evaluate its effectiveness. There are a few studies so far that use the BESA, and I hope soon there will be more. Here is what I think is only a partial list:  Read the rest of this entry »

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BESA Research

I’ve been meaning to post some information about the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment and we have. Here, we respond to some FAQs. And here, I provided an overview of what it does, how it works, and its specificity/sensitivity data. In addition to this information and what is in the manual, we have written a number of papers over the years that led directly to what we included (and excluded) from the BESA. So, below I will provide some of the links to abstracts of papers we’ve written about earlier versions of the BESA. These are the studies that we conduced to refine the items and the test so that the final published version has a high degree of classification accuracy.

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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.

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Starting and Building a Second Language

We have a fairly new article accepted for publication in the International Journal of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education. Even though it’s not yet published it’s available through the Journal’s forthcoming articles list.

As part of an NIH funded project, we screened about 750 children (actually we now have screened 1200 kiddos, but when we wrote the article were still in the process of screening so the analysis is based on the numbers to that point–still it’s a lot of kids). We developed a screener based on the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment that we’d previously worked on. The screener is called the Bilingual English Spanish Oral Screening (get it? get it??).  It takes about 15-20 minutes to give in both languages (compared to the full version of the test this is about 1/4 of the time). The BESOS includes morphosyntax and semantics sections. If you want to know more about the development of the BESA (from which the BESOS is derived see here and here for morphosyntax; and here for semantics. (And yes, the BESA (but not the screener) includes phonology and pragmatics).

Anyway, in this study we gave the screener to all the kids regardless of whether they thought they didn’t know English or Spanish. Children were preschool and kindergarten age (between 4;6 and 5;6). We did stop testing a subsection if they gave us no response to 5 items in a row (we’re not totally cruel, it’s just that sometimes kids know more than they think– more than their parents and teachers think too!). We were interested in seeing what factors were associated with knowing something, anything in a language. We also wanted to know what factors were associated with higher scores. Read the rest of this entry »

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