Posts Tagged phonology

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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Easy and Hard Sounds

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 »

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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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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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So, where’s the GOLD?

Recently, I posted in my lab blog (or is it on my lab blog? I don’t know) about the challenges in developing a test for bilingual children. In collaboration with Aquiles Iglesias, Vera Gutierrez-Clellen, Brian Goldstein, and Lisa Bedore, I worked on development of the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment (BESA)– a test for Spanish-English bilinguals designed for identification of language impairment. The challenge that we faced when we began this 7 year project (in 1998) is that there was very little data on markers of language impairment in other languages. In fact some of this information had just begun to emerge for language impairment in English speakers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Analyzing Phonological Skills in Bilinguals: It’s a Buffet, Not a 7-Course Meal

I’ve often maintained that eliciting speech samples for phonological analysis (whether single or word or connected speech) does not take that much longer for bilinguals than it does for monolinguals (it is somewhat longer, for sure).  What does take longer, however, are the analyses of those samples.  Given that there are almost no standardized assessments for phonological skills of bilinguals, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) must complete a set of broad and deep analyses. 

 These analyses consist of both independent and relational analyses.  Independent analyses are those that do not relate the child’s productions to the adult target.  For example, the clinician should note the child’s phonetic inventory (arranged by place and manner or articulation) listing all the sounds that the child produces whether it’s produced correctly or not.  So, even is a child produces [t] instead of /k/, the child’s ability to produce [t] should be indicated.  After all, for this analysis, it’s what the child can/did do.  Other independent analyses might include:

  • syllable types (e.g., CV, CVC, etc.)
  • syllable shapes (how syllable types combine—CV$CV)
  • word length (e.g., number of syllables per word)

 Relational analyses are those that compare the child’s production to the adult target and might include:

  • Overall consonant accuracy
  • Consonant accuracy by sound class
  • Vowel accuracy
  • Error types using a SODA format: Substitutions, Omissions, Distortions, Additions
  • Percentage-of-occurrence of phonological patterns (e.g., final consonant deletion, stopping)
  • Intelligibility
  • Contextual effects (where does the error occur—initial position, final position, both?)
  • Stimulability (can the child produce the target after a model?)

 SLPs are often overwhelmed initially by the number of analyses I suggest, as there are issues of time and efficiency.  I understand and appreciate those issues.  These analyses should be thought of as a buffet.  Choose the ones that are most satisfying to you.  However, I believe that completing this array of analyses leads to more reliable and valid diagnoses and link clearly and specifically to intervention targets.

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Spanish Speech Sound Changes (when English is introduced)

Okay, so phonology isn’t my strong suit– probably it isn’t my suit at all, but I have participated in a couple of such studies in collaboration with researchers who know more about this than me. Nonetheless, I’m interested in how children use what they know about one language to bootstrap their way into another language and phonological learning provides another way to look at that.

We (Gildersleeve-Neumann, Peña, Davis, & Kester) have an article coming out this year in Bilingualism: Language & Cognition. We examined Spanish speaking children in a Head Start setting. The 6 children in this study were between the ages of 3 and 4 (an average of 3 years 5 months) at the beginning of the school year and only spoke Spanish. In preschool, they were exposed to both English and Spanish. At the beginning of preschool they could produce all the Spanish vowels, most of the consonants and consonant combinations. Read the rest of this entry »

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