Posts Tagged testing

Assessment of Bilinguals: Don’t Go NUTS!

For a long time, many of us have worked on development of better assessment methods for bilingual children. We know that many of the measures normed for monolinguals are not appropriate for bilinguals. We know that translated measures can lose their psychometric properties because difficulty may shift in translation. But, in the last 20 years there have been more measures and procedures that are validated for Spanish-English bilinguals. Work on other language pairs is emerging as well, but right now the majority of available measures focus on Spanish-English.

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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.


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 Fan Page

We made a BESA fan page:

BESA coverWhen the test is ready to pre-order, when it’s published, or when we have other news we’ll post in the fan page. So, like it and you’ll be able to keep up with what’s going on with the BESA.



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From time to time (should be more often) I”m reminded of why I do the work I do. It’s so easy to get caught up with thinking about getting out the next paper, the details of the job, getting ready for presentations, teaching and so on that I loose sight of what I’m doing ultimately. What I aim to do is to make a difference in the every day lives of kids who are bilingual.

Today I got an e-mail from a bilingual SLP who had read a post written by Lisa Bedore and me in the Asha Leader, in which we argue that bilingual children need to be tested in both languages because they so often have “mixed” dominance. In my e-mail, the SLP wanted to know what measure we used to measure dominance and stated that in her district county officials wanted “score and numbers” in order to determine dominance. It’s so great when I learn someone is actually reading this work and trying to apply it in practice. This is exactly what keeps me going, especially on days that I’m feeling like I’m putting out this stuff and no one cares. Read the rest of this entry »

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One Language One Clinician?

When I spoke at the FLASH seminar at UT Dallas in January, Anne van Kleeck asked if it mattered whether clinicians let bilingual children know they were bilingual. I’m not really sure what the answer is, and it’s one of those questions that I continued to think about after I got back to Austin. Read the rest of this entry »

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What language should I start in?

A question that comes up frequently among bilingual speech-language pathologists who are testing children in two languages is what language to start testing in. There aren’t really clear guidelines. Some people advocate starting in the child’s home language; others suggest starting in the child’s stronger language; still others say that SLPs should follow the child’s lead and start in the language the child feels most comfortable in. We’ve tested many many kids over the last few years in English and Spanish. Sometimes we start in English other times we start in Spanish, and we do this regardless of what the child’s better or home language is. The reason we do this is so that we aren’t favoring one language over the other. For research purposes this makes sense because we’re interested in group data and we really don’t know what each child’s best language is. But, for clinical testing we are interested in individual performance and we want to get the best performance from kids as possible– if not the best performance at least information that is representative of their capabilities. And it’s for this reason that the question comes up. Maybe it does matter what language we start in. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bilingual Test Development

Before, I wrote about different purposes for test development. Given those different test functions an implication is that the way we then develop tests for these should be different. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is the Grass Greener??

The workshop on assessment of bilinguals in Gregynog was really interesting. There were researchers, students, and practitioners representing several disciplines including: speech-language pathology, psychology, linguistics, and reading. They were from different countries including: England, Wales, United States, Spain, Ireland, Netherlands, Greece among others. Many of these counties have official bilingual language policies (e.g., the Basque Country of Spain and Wales). One of the things that really struck me was that the challenges involved in assessment of bilinguals are very similar to what we face in the U.S. Somehow, I’d always assumed that the Europeans had it all figured out, especially since bilingualism is much more common than it is in the U.S. 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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Testing ESL Children: What we can do now

One of the challenges in assessment of bilingual children is deciding whether or not they have language impairment. On one hand SLPs might decide to wait for children to learn more English before they assess them. On the other hand it’s important to identify children who have language impairment early so that we can intervene.

As of yet there are no standardized tests for bilingual children. There are some standardized tests for children who speak other languages. But, often these tests are inappropriate because they do not apply to children who speak two languages. There are some folks working on development of such tests for Spanish-English speakers (including me), these are few and don’t apply to all language pairs or all ages. At least not yet. So, what can we do NOW for the kids who are referred for assessment of language ability? What do we do to make decisions about language ability in the absence of standardized tests or even in the absence of personnel who speak the child’s language? Read the rest of this entry »

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