Pena, E.D., Gillam, R.B., Bedore, L.M., & Bohman, T. M. (2011). Risk for Poor Performance on a Language Screening Measure for Bilingual Preschoolers and Kindergartens. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 302-314.
This study examines the relationship between language experience and Latino children’s performance on Bilingual measures (English and Spanish). The primary purpose of the study is to examine whether preschooler and kindergarteners children who are learning two languages at the same time present with risk for language impairment more than the monolingual children. Also, this study explored the relationship between maternal education and length of exposure in both languages (English and Spanish).
A total of 1,029 children completed subtests assessing semantics and morphsyntax in both languages (English and Spanish) of the Bilingual English Spanish Oral Screener (BESOS; currently in development). From parental report the study identified each child to be in one of five groups of languages: (1) functionally monolingual English (FME), (2) bilingual English dominant (BED), (3) balanced bilingual (BL), (4) bilingual Spanish dominant (BSD), and (5) functionally monolingual Spanish (FMS). The bilingual not-at-risk group scored lower than the monolingual and language dominant groups in both languages. In addition, in English subtest tasks, the balance bilingual with no risk earned the same scores as the English monolingual at risk group. Moreover, the two bilingual dominant groups had the same score as their bilingual groups in their stronger language.
The study reported that bilingual children might be at risk for poor performance on language measures. However, bilingualism is not related to increased risk for language impairment because performance of the at-risk groups did not differ significantly for across all five language groups. In sum, the study found that monolingual and bilingual child had the same overall language knowledge provided measures in both languages were included for the bilingual groups. The results underlined the problem of assessing bilingual children in only one language.
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