Background and Goals
Background and Goals
Speech-language pathologists and teachers are increasingly finding children with first languages other than English in their caseloads and classrooms. According to the 2006 census, children whose mother tongue is neither English nor French comprised approximately 12.5% of all Canadian children aged 0-9 years. In large urban centres, 15-30% of children have neither English nor French as their mother tongue.
The resources speech-language pathologists have been trained to use for assessment were developed for monolingual populations. The risk of over- and under-identification of language delays and impairment in children who are learning English as a second language is a well-known problem, and occurs mainly because there is an absence of appropriate assessment tools available for this population.
To reduce the incidence of over- and under-identification, speech-language pathologists need more detailed information about the characteristics of typical and atypical ESL development, and access to assessment resources based on the linguistic performance of ESL children. The objective of this research project is to provide such information and resources to both professionals and the academic community.
218 English second language (ESL) typically-developing children and 28 ESL children with language impairment participated in this project. The children had the following general characteristics:
- were 5 or 6 years old (some children with language impairment were slightly older or younger)
- had been learning English for at least one semester at preschool or primary school, with no more than three-and-a-half years of learning English at preschool or primary school
- were residing in either Edmonton or Toronto, Canada from 2006-2010
- had a variety of first language backgrounds
For more details, see Characteristics of ESL Child Participants.
- Standardized English language tests were given to the children.
- Naturalistic language samples were taken from the children.
- Parents were given two detailed questionnaires about their children's language development and their linguistic environment.
Standardized English Language Tests
- Test of Early Grammatical Impairment (TEGI). Rice, L. & Wexler, K. (2001). Test for Early Grammatical Impairment. United States: The Psychological Corporation: A Harcourt Assessment Company.
Parents were given two questionnaires orally (with the assistance of a cultural broker/interpreter if needed). For more information on administration, see Questionnaires.
- The Alberta Language Development Questionnaire (PDF) (ALDeQ) consists of questions concerning the early and current development of the children's first language for the purpose of understanding whether there is evidence of delay or difficulties in the first language.
The primary practical outcomes are:
- Downloadable parental questionnaires with scoring instructions.
- Information on the combinations of tests/subtests that effectively distinguish ESL children with language impairment from their typically-developing ESL peers, along with language development calculators that assess the probability that an ESL child has language impairment. This also includes instructions on how to use this information in an assessment report.
The following publications are based on data collected as part of the CHESL Centre project:
Paradis, J. (2011). Individual Differences in Child English Second Language Acquisition: Comparing Child-Internal and Child-External Factors (PDF). Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Volume 1(3), pp. 213-237.
Zdorenko, T. & Paradis, J. (2011). Articles in child L2 English: When L1 and L2 acquisition meet at the interface (PDF). First Language, Volume 32(1-2), pp. 38-62.
Paradis, J., Emmerzael, K., & Sorenson Duncan, T. (2010). Assessment of English Language Learners: Using Parent Report on First Language Development (PDF). Journal of Communication Disorders, Volume 43, pp. 474-497.
Paradis, J., Genesee, F., & Crago, M. (2011). Dual Language Development and Disorders: A Handbook on Bilingualism and Second Language Learning, Second Edition. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing.
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