Assessment of second language proficiency in bilingual children with specific language impairment: A clinical perspective

Download Assessment of second language proficiency in bilingual children with specific language impairment: A clinical perspective

Post on 27-Oct-2016

215 views

Category:

Documents

1 download

Embed Size (px)

TRANSCRIPT

<ul><li><p>1. Introduction</p><p>Childrenwith specic language impairment (SLI) are diagnosed as exhibiting a signicant decit in the production and/orcomprehension of language that cannot be explained by general cognitive impairment, sensory-motor decits, neurologicaldisorder, psychiatric diagnosis or a general lack of exposure to language (Leonard, 1998). Children with SLI have limited</p><p>Research in Developmental Disabilities 32 (2011) 17981807</p><p>Available online 8 May 2011</p><p>Keywords:</p><p>Specic language impairment</p><p>Second language</p><p>Assessment</p><p>of typically developing monolingual Dutch children, typically developing bilingual</p><p>children, and monolingual Dutch children with SLI. Assuming that speaking a language in</p><p>varying environments involves distinct subskills that can be acquired in differential</p><p>patterns, the achievement of phonological, lexical, morphosyntactic and textual abilities</p><p>were assessed separately. For each of these abilities, it was determined to what extent the</p><p>conditions of restricted input (rst vs. second language) and language decit (typically</p><p>developing vs. SLI) cause stagnation or a delay in language acquisition. Bilingual children</p><p>with SLI perform at a lower level than the other groups in almost all aspects of</p><p>achievement in Dutch. For language tasks related to the mental lexicon and grammar, an</p><p>additional disadvantage was evidenced as a result of the combination of learning Dutch as</p><p>second language and having SLI.</p><p> 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.</p><p>Contents lists available at ScienceDirect</p><p>Research in Developmental Disabilitieslinguistic ability, their language development is delayed. Exclusion criteria are often used to identify this population. It isestimated that 6% of children in the general population have SLI, although there is considerable heterogeneity among thelanguage proles of these children (Law, Boyle, Harris, Harkness, &amp; Nye, 1998; VanWeerdenburg, Verhoeven, &amp; van Balkom,2006). Prominent problems among children with SLI are in the areas of morpho-syntax, phonology, and lexicon (Bishop,1997). Firstly, morpho-syntactic difculties have most extensively been investigated in different languages (see Leonard,2000). A common problem of children with SLI that is seen in different languages concerns verb morphology. Because manychildren with SLI have morpho-syntactic problems, it is sometimes referred to as typical SLI (e.g., Bishop, 2004). Secondly,many studies have focused on phonological abilities of children with SLI. Such research showed for example that childrenwith SLI cannot discriminate and process sounds adequately (Bishop, 1997). In addition, children with SLI have been shownto have expressive phonological problems, often referred to as verbal dyspraxia (Bishop, 2004; Rapin, 1996). Finally, childrenAssessment of second language prociency in bilingual children withspecic language impairment: A clinical perspective</p><p>Ludo Verhoeven *, Judit Steenge, Marjolijn van Weerdenburg, Hans van Balkom</p><p>Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Montessorilaan 3, 6525 HR Nijmegen, The Netherlands</p><p>A R T I C L E I N F O</p><p>Article history:</p><p>Received 11 March 2011</p><p>Accepted 13 March 2011</p><p>A B S T R A C T</p><p>The goal of this study was to examine to what extent the conditions of restricted input of</p><p>L2 and SLI have an additive impact on language acquisition. Therefore, the Dutch language</p><p>achievement of 6-, 7-, and 8-year-old bilingual children with SLI was compared with thatwith SLI have been shown to exhibit lexical problems, such as difculties in acquiring newwords and in word nding. Mostlexical problems, however, co-occur with syntactical difculties (see Leonard &amp; Deevy, 2004).</p><p>* Corresponding author.</p><p>E-mail address: L.Verhoeven@pwo.ru.nl (L. Verhoeven).</p><p>0891-4222/$ see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2011.03.010</p></li><li><p>L. Verhoeven et al. / Research in Developmental Disabilities 32 (2011) 17981807 1799The language acquisition of children with SLI is especially at risk for those who belong to minority groups. Most childrenfrom ethnic minorities in the Netherlands are confronted with the task of communicating in the dominant language of amajority environment in order to cope with daily life. Usually, this language is learned as a second language (L2). Such acontext is called a submersion context. The language situation of most minority children can be characterized as emergentbilingualismwith the rst language being built up during the preschool years as the result of linguistic input in L1-speakinghomes and the second language later coming into play via L2 playmates and the school. It can thus be assumed that childrenreceiving restricted L2 input experience difculty in obtaining native-like prociency levels in their second language. This iswhat indeed has been found in the literature with a great deal of individual variation being reported (August &amp; Shanahan,2006; Genesee, Paradis, &amp; Crago, 2004).</p><p>The problem of L2 acquisition in bilingual childrenwith SLI has been addressed in only a few studies (Schiff-Myers, 1992).Bruck (1982) explored the cognitive and linguistic abilities of children with language impairment attending Frenchimmersion programmes, in which English speaking children followed education in French as their second language. Aftertwo years of instruction in a second language, she found their L1 cognitive and linguistic skills to be at a similar level to thoseof a comparable group of childrenwith SLI whowere educated in their rst language. The second language prociency levels,however, were below those of children without SLI in French immersion programmes. Restrepo (1998) made an attempt toidentify a set of measures discriminating predominantly Spanish-speaking children (learning English as a second language)with typical language development and with SLI. Measures of vocabulary, bound-morpheme learning skills and languageformwere administered, alongwith parent questionnaires on the childs language achievement and family history of speechand language problems. The followingmeasures turned out to discriminate between bilingual childrenwith andwithout SLI:parental report of the childs speech and language skills, family history of speech and language problems, mean length ofutterances and the number of errors per utterance. In studies by Crutchley, Botting, and Conti-Ramsden (1997) and Crutchley(1999), the language achievement of bilingual children with SLI and monolingual children with SLI in English as a rst andsecond language was compared. Overall, the bilingual children had lower scores than their monolingual peers onstandardized language assessment measures in the domains of vocabulary and grammar. The researchers found that thebilingual children were more likely to have language difculties in complex language skills like morphology and grammarthan in phonological skills.</p><p>From research on SLI and bilingualism conducted so far, wemust conclude that a coherent picture of the acquisition of L2in bilingual children with SLI is generally lacking. In most studies, the L1 achievement level of monolingual children wascompared with the L2 achievement level of bilingual children. No attempt has been made to take into account theachievement levels of monolingual and bilingual children with and without language impairment in the same design.Moreover, insofar as language data have been compared, only a few linguistic domains were taken into account. Studiesproviding a full account of the speech and language achievement ofmonolingual and bilingual childrenwith andwithout SLIstill are extremely scarce.</p><p>The present study can be seen as a clinical attempt to shed light on the second language difculties of bilingual childrenwith SLI in the Netherlands. Empirical studies on young L2 learners in the Netherlands have demonstrated that in the vastmajority of cases, bilingual children have no serious problems in acquiring phonological skills, such as articulation. However,in the linguistic domains of lexicon, morphology, and syntax, bilingual children often appear to fall behind their native peers(Driessen, van der Slik, &amp; de Bot (2002); Lalleman, 1986; Verhoeven &amp; Narain, 1996; Verhoeven &amp; Vermeer, 1996). In thepresent study, an attempt was made to nd out to what extent the conditions of restricted input of L2 and SLI have anadditive impact on language acquisition. Therefore, the Dutch language achievement of 6-, 7-, and 8-year-old bilingualchildren with SLI (Bili-SLI) was compared with that of three control groups of children in the same age-range: (1) typicallydeveloping monolingual Dutch children (Mono-TD), (2) typically developing bilingual children (Bili-TD), and (3)monolingual Dutch children with SLI (Mono-SLI). We did not conceive of language prociency as a monolithic ability,but assumed that speaking a language in varying environments involves distinct subskills that can be acquired in differentialpatterns (MacWhinney, 1992). Accordingly, the achievement of phonological, lexical, morphosyntactic and textual abilitieswere assessed separately. For each of these abilities, it was determined to what extent the conditions of restricted input (L1vs. L2) and language decit (typically developing vs. SLI) cause stagnation or a delay in language acquisition.</p><p>2. Method</p><p>2.1. Participants</p><p>A total of 1108 children, divided over the Bili-SLI group and three control groups, participated in this study. The Bili-SLIgroup consisted of 74 bilingual children (54 boys, 20 girls), learning Dutch as a second language, with SLI. The childrenoriginated from three minority groups: Turkish (n = 34), Moroccan (n = 27), and Surinamese (n = 13). The childrens agesvaried from 67 to 103 months (M = 85 months).</p><p>Three groups of children served as control groups. The rst control group consisted of 137 (93 boys, 44 girls) native Dutchchildren with SLI (Mono-SLI). The childrens ages varied from 73 to 102 months (M = 86 months). All children with SLI (bothin the Bili-SLI group and in the control Mono-SLI group) were diagnosed with SLI by a multidisciplinary team of clinicallinguists, psychologists, and speech therapists. The children had normal hearing and adequate intelligence, and attendedspecial elementary schools for children with SLI in various regions of the Netherlands.</p></li><li><p>L. Verhoeven et al. / Research in Developmental Disabilities 32 (2011) 179818071800The second control group consisted of 321 bilingual children, learning Dutch as a second language, with typical languagedevelopment (Bili-TD)who had served as a portion of the norm-group for the Dutch language test used. This group consistedof 169 boys and 152 girls originating from three minority groups: Turkish (n = 146), Moroccan (n = 114), and Surinamese(n = 61). The childrens ages varied from67 to 102months (M = 84months). These children attendedmainstream elementaryschools in various regions of the Netherlands.</p><p>The third control group was a group of 576 native Dutch children with typical language development (Mono-TD). Thisgroup also had served as a portion of the norm-group for the Dutch language test used and consisted of 273 boys and 303girls with ages varying from 67 to 102 months (M = 84 months).</p><p>2.2. Materials</p><p>The Dutch standardized language test Taaltoets Alle Kinderen [Language Prociency Test for All Children] (Verhoeven&amp;Vermeer, 2001) was used to assess the childrens Dutch language skills. This test consists of nine different subtests in thefollowing linguistic domains: phonology (auditory discrimination and articulation), lexicon (receptive vocabulary and worddenition), word formation (functionwords andmorphology), syntax (sentence comprehension and sentence imitation) andtext comprehension. All tasks yield sufcient reliability indices; Cronbachs alphawas greater than .84 in all cases. These ninetasks will be described in the following.</p><p>Auditory discrimination. The auditory discrimination task was used to assess whether a child could process auditoryinformation. The investigator orally presented pairs of words to the child using a piece of paper as coverage for hermouth, sothat the child had no visual feedback. After each pair, the child had to indicate whether the words were the same by sayingthe same or not the same. The task consisted of 50 pairs ofwords, 13 of these pairs consisted of two identicalwords (correctresponse: the same), the remaining 37 pairs consisted of two words that differed in only one sound (correct response: notthe same). The childs score was the total number of correct answers. The maximum score was 50. There was notermination-rule; all children were required to answer all items. An example of a word-pair with two identical words waskat kat [cat cat]. An example of a word-pair with two different words differing in only one sound was bel bal [bell ball].</p><p>Articulation. The articulation task was used to assess whether a child could articulate all sounds in words with andwithout clusters of consonants. The investigator orally presented aword to the childwhich the child had to re-articulate. Thetask consisted of 45 words of different levels of articulation-difculty, depending on the absence (less difcult) or presence(difcult) of consonant-clusters in the words. The childs score was the total number of correctly pronounced words. Adifference in pronunciation of the child from the pronunciation of the investigator resulted in an incorrect answer, evenpronunciation-differences due to a childs dialect. The maximum score was 45. There was no termination-rule; all childrenwere required to answer all items. An example of a word without any consonant-clusters was muur [wall]. An example of aword with a consonant-cluster was herfst [fall].</p><p>Receptive vocabulary. The receptive vocabulary task was used to assess a childs receptive lexicon. The investigator orallypresented aword whichwas depicted in one of four line-drawings and the child had to respond by choosing the correct line-drawing. The task consisted of 96 picture-pointing items presented in order of increasing difculty. An item contained apicture of the item of the word and three distracting pictures. The childs score was the total number of correct answers. Themaximum score was 96. The task was terminated after ve consecutive incorrect answers. An example of a picture-pointingitemwas the word neus [nose] with a line-drawing of a nose and three distracting drawings of an eye, a mouth, and a knee.</p><p>Word denition. The word denition task assessed a childs lexicon and his or her ability to describe words. Theinvestigator orally presented words and asked the child to describe, to point to, or to demonstrate these words. When thechilds description was not specic enough, the investigator asked the child to say some more about the word. The taskconsisted of 45 items in order of increasing difculty. The childs score was the total number of correct answers. Themaximum score was 45. The task was terminated after ve consecutive incorrect answers. An example of a questionpresented by the i...</p></li></ul>