New Spanish Language Development Measures: Detecting Developmental Language Disorders in Spanish-English Bilingual Children without a Bias

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The purpose of this study is to evaluate and subsequently improve current measurements of linguistic ability of bilingual Spanish-English preschoolers. Several measures to distinguish children with a developmental language disorder from typical peers have been developed in English and adapted into Spanish; however, there are several problems with the construct and content validity of these measures (Banerjee & Guiberson, 2012; Restrepo & Silverman, 2001). First, Spanish tests of language ability have often been translations of the English tests (Guiberson & Rodriguez, 2010), failing to take into account the specifics of normal Spanish language development. Second, the answers that are set as “correct” are also often limited in that they do not take into account variability associated with the Spanish language system. And finally, usually only correctness of the answer is recorded by the evaluator, limiting the amount of information that test results can offer, from both a developmental and sociolinguistic perspective.

Therefore, our central question is: how can measures evaluating the linguistic development of bilingual children be improved so they are more informative and valid?

In order to answer this question we will design more linguistically motivated measures for morphosyntactic development that we will test in a pilot study (and example of this type of study but for semantic abilities and picture naming is Llorenc et al 2012). Each of the sessions will be recorded so as to register not only the correctness of the answer, but also the specific answer. In addition, the recording will allow us to analyze the interaction between the speech therapist administering the test and the child. We will apply quantitative analysis to the results of our pilot measures, qualitative analysis to the specific answers given, and we will use conversation analysis methodology and qualitative analysis to observe the interaction between the test administrator and the child.

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