Thursday, June 6, 2013

Resource Review: "Language Difference vs. Language Disorder: Assessment and Intervention Strategies for SLPs Working With Bilingual Children"

I don't know about you, but I have many students on my caseload who are bilingual!  We're fortunate in my district to have a few bilingual SLPs to conduct evaluations and determine eligibility (Spanish, Portuguese, and Cape Verdean Creole).  However, it's often the monolingual therapists (like me) who provide the actual service delivery.  I took French in high school, which is fairly useless to me at this point.  The area of Massachusetts in which I live has a strong Portuguese heritage and you can't be from here without knowing some Portuguese words (though usually none you would use around children, lol!)  And because my last school was in a neighborhood with a large Spanish/Mayan population, I have learned some Spanish words and phrases to communicate with those students.  However, I'm always struggling with some of the aspects of servicing bilingual students, including:
  • Does this child really have a disability?
  • Does this sound occur in Spanish/Quiche/Portuguese?
  • Do this child's morpho-syntactic errors require intervention?
  • Is this child ready to be dismissed?

Recently I was given the opportunity to read and review an excellent resource - "Language Difference vs. Language Disorder:  Assessment and Intervention Strategies for SLPs Working With Bilingual Children" - created by Tatyana Elleseff, MA, CCC-SLP of Smart Speech Therapy, LLC

This product is a 113 slide presentation highlighting "how to provide effective evidence based practice assessments to bilingual children in order to differentiate English Language Learners from bilingual children with true language disorders.  It will also offer recommendations regarding therapeutic interventions with bilingual children with impairments."

Just what I needed!  

Overview of Bilingualism:
This presentation begins with a description of the types of bilingualism, including Simultaneous Bilingual, Sequential Bilingual, Sequential language learners (Majority group), and Sequential language learners (Minority group).  Next comes a list of the advantages of bilingualism for typically developing children as well as the stages of language acquisition for sequential language learners.

After that comes a description of Additive vs. Subtractive Bilingualism.  As you may guess from the names, in Additive Bilingualism the child's home language and culture are valued and developed and the second language is added to the first.  In Subtractive Bilingualism the second language is introduced at the expense of the first, and the first language is negatively impacted.  It seems to me that Additive Bilingualism would be preferred.  It would be lovely if the "powers that be" in the education system provided sufficient supports to make this method a reality in all districts across the country (just my two cents).

Other key points that are explored include the affects of bilingualism on "academic language," communication differences versus disorders, and language characteristics of bilingual children.

Tatyana goes into detail on the challenges and limitations that SLPs face when it comes to assessing bilingual students.  Obvious limitations include the lack of assessment instruments standardized for bilingual populations and the scarcity of bilingual SLPs.  However, Tatyana lists other limitations that I had not previously considered.  She also lists several of the more common assessment instruments (and some lesser known) and lists the considerations SLPs should be aware of when using with bilingual students.  Considerations are provided for gathering case history, assessing fluency and score reporting as well.

In this section, Tatyana covers a variety of methods of intervention including dual language intervention, bilingual approaches to speech remediation, complimentary language intervention, and cross-linguistic approach.  She discusses intervention considerations related to service delivery,  literacy, and phonological awareness as well.  In addition, there is a slide with recommended language activities for bilingual students.  There are also several slides with recommendations for monolingual clinicians who are servicing bilingual students.

Some interesting points:
  • More children are growing up learning two or more languages than children who learn only one.
  • Best practice does NOT support limiting the child's first language to focus on the second language.
  • Communication differences that are affected by the child's first language are part of normal development of the second language.  Communication disorders will be present in the child's first language as well.
  • I love the fact that this product contains resources on sound acquisition in other languages.  There's even a handy chart on the sequence of phonological processes to target in Spanish.

This material provides a ton of research and resources to support the information.  Because of the format as a powerpoint slide presentation, I would advise consulting the research that is cited for further information on any of the topics.

Overall, I think this is a valuable resource for SLPs who assess and/or treat children from bilingual homes.  I have definitely learned a lot from all of the resources from Tatyana that I have read!  I would love to see her partner with ASHA to offer CEUs for some of her resources!

Do you service bilingual students?  If so, you're in luck!  Tatyana offered a copy of this resource for me to give away!  To enter to win a copy, use the Rafflecopter below.  You can also purchase this product HERE.  Don't forget to visit Smart Speech Therapy's blog page.  Tatyana is reviewing and giving away a copy of my "Out of This World! Context Clues Activity"!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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