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Bilingual Multicultural | Bilingue Multicultural

The Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic is staffed with bilingual (Spanish/English) clinical educators.  Bilingual clients or monolingual speakers of languages other than English who are suspected of having a communication disorder will be assessed and treated using evidenced-based bilingual assessment and treatment approaches.  These individuals are assigned to graduate student clinicians enrolled in the bilingual cognate who receive specialized training in bilingual assessment, intervention, and second language acquisition. Bilingual services are available in our clinic for all clients in any language, with any communication disorder, across the lifespan.

It is important to note that individuals who speak more than one language, as well as those who are monolingual English speakers but utilize dialects that differ from the Standard American English dialect, may demonstrate rule-governed differences in the way sounds are produced, verbs are conjugated, sentences are constructed, meaning is assigned to words, and social language is utilized. Dialect is a non-disordered difference in a language that is specific given a particular geographic location, culture, or people. For example, individuals who speak Spanish-influenced English may omit the regular past tense “-ed” marker or they may stand closer to and touch their communicative partner during conversation. Speakers of Asian-influenced English may omit “be” verbs and they may have difficulty understanding idioms. Furthermore, those who speak African American English may not make eye contact when listening or they may omit the /r/ sound when it is positioned between two vowels. Those who demonstrate these and similar language characteristics present with a language difference, not a language or communication disorder and therefore do not require treatment or services of any kind. (Schwarz & Perez, 2019)

To make an appointment, or if you have any questions, please call the clinic at 512-716-2600.

Considerations for Bilingual/Multicultural School-Aged Children

Stages of Second Language Acquisition

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Tabors and Snow (1994) have also proposed a sequence of second language acquisition followed by preschool children (ages 3-4) as they enter school. These stages are as follows:

    • Students may assume that English-speaking individuals will understand or learn their native language.
    • Some students, especially older children, will quickly recognize their inability to be understood by their English-speaking peers.
    • After realizing that their native language will not help them communicate, students may choose to communicate without words. As a result, students may be ignored by their peers.
    • It is important to note that in this stage students will continue to communicate nonverbally.
  • Verbal utterances produced by preschool students at this stage may include:
    • Telegraphic speech – content words lacking morphologic markers and accompanying function words
    •  Formulaic speech – rote phrases learned in socialization, such as “hello” and “my turn” (Wong Fillmore, 1979)
    • Students in this stage learn to compare the syntactic rules of both languages to produce the second language more effectively.
    • New rules of the second language are discovered as they adjust to using and practicing the second language.

Speech and Language Assessment

Once it has been determined that the speech and/or language difficulties a school-aged client is experiencing are possible signs of a disorder and not a difference, speech-language pathologists should conduct a formal assessment. The following factors should be taken into account when assessing a bilingual student:
  • Speech-language pathologists should be culturally and linguistically familiar with the student’s native language and recognize that the cultural and linguistic differences may have an impact on the student’s performance (Kayser, 1995).
  • The student’s dominant language needs to be determined first. In addition, testing should occur in both the primary and secondary languages to determine if a language disorder is present. For example, the student may be able to provide an answer to a question in one language, but lack the translation equivalent of the word in the second language to provide the answer (Kayser, 1995).
  • Both standardized and criterion-referenced (formal and informal) measures should be used during the assessment to provide a strong, thorough, comprehensive picture of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. These include, but are not limited to, appropriate standardized tests, language-sample analyses, narrative analyses, parent/teacher interviews, observations, and a review of past academic performance (Kayser, 1998a). The assessment should include the following: language proficiency testing, receptive and expressive vocabulary and language testing, articulation/phonology testing, hearing screening, oral-motor examination, voice screening, social language screening, and fluency screening.
  • Provide least-biased testing that takes into account the student’s cultural and linguistic differences. Assessment should include both standardized and criterion-referenced measures and may involve modifications of testing procedures (Kayser, 1998a).
  • A disorder must be present in both the primary and secondary languages in order for it to be considered a language disorder (Kayser, 1998b).
  • Speech-language pathologists may use dynamic assessment, or therapeutic assessment, to determine the student’s true potential. This form of assessment uses a mediated-learning approach that involves pre-testing, teaching, and re-testing. This approach allows the student to demonstrate the level of performance achieved both independently and with assistance (Gutierrez-Clellen & Peña, 2001).