Paradis, J. (2005). Grammatical Morphology in Children Learning English as a Second Language: Implication of Similarities With Specific Language Impairment. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 3603-0172.
This study examines similarities between the expressive language characteristics of typically developing children in the early stages of learning English as a second language (TD ESL) and monolingual children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). This study focuses on grammatical ability in both groups, since grammatical morphology is an area of noted difficulty for both monolingual children with SLI and TD ESL. Also, this study examines if the overlap between these two groups might cause erroneous assessment of TD ESL (Missed identity & Mistaken identity).
The grammatical ability of 24 school age children within their first year and a half of learning English as a second language was compared with monolingual children with SLI. Children with engaged in two tasks: (1) Spontaneous Speech, and (2) Elicited Speech using the Test of Early Grammatical Impairment (TEGI; M. Rice & K. Waxler, 2001). Error types were examined in two grammatical composites: (1) non-tense group (progressive aspect –ing; preposition in & on; plural –s; articles the & a; copula and auxiliary BE), and (2) Tense group (third person singular –s; past tense –ed; irregular past tense; copula and auxiliary BE). Results revealed the same error patterns for both groups: a) tense morphology was less accurate than nontense morphology. b) errors of ommission with grammatical morphemes were more common than errors of commission. c) these patterns were the same for spontaneous and elicited data.
The study findings suggest that using ‘translated’ English standardized test with bilingual children may lead to erroneous assessment. The authors agree with the recommendations of the TEGI test that the TEGI is not recommended for nonnative English speakers.
The studies suggest that an important focus for future research is to compare ESL children with and without SLI, because any finding will have a significant effect on the process of assessment with this population of children.
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