SpeechPathology.comPhone: 800-242-5183

New master brand. Same great company. Introducing continued! Read Our Story

360 Degree Therapy

Supporting Two Languages in Bilingual Children with Primary Developmental Language Disorders

Supporting Two Languages in Bilingual Children with Primary Developmental Language Disorders
Kathryn Kohnert, Kathryn Kohnert
August 6, 2007
Share:

 

* This article is an excerpt from Language Disorders in Bilingual Children and Adults (Kohnert, 2007). It is shared with permission of Plural Publishing.

Issues in Supporting Two Languages

The starting point of this article is the assertion that it is important to support home as well as school and community languages in children with primary language disorders (LD) in order to achieve life-long goals of academic and vocational achievement along with social, emotional, and communicative health. For dual-language learners, this means taking action that supports the development of two different languages. The validity of this assertion is worth exploring, as it would certainly be easier to focus exclusively on one language, particularly when it is the majority language of the school and broader community and a language in which speech-language pathologists are proficient and resources abound.

The assertion to support two languages in children with LD has historically been met with considerable skepticism among professionals and, in some cases, even the child's family. This skepticism is couched in the "yes-but" statement that usually begins with an acknowledgment, "Yes, bilingualism is fine for typically developing children" followed by "but this child has LD." The reasoning is that if one language is hard for the child (as is clearly the case for children with LD), two languages will be harder and exceed his or her language-learning capacities. The recommendation that follows from this line of reasoning is to consolidate the child's resources, reduce demands, and scale back to a single language. For minority language learners, the further recommendation may be to use only the majority language with the child to increase his or her chances of receiving appropriate services and educational advancement.

There are several problems with this recommendation. First, by definition, changing the language of input (from Spanish to English) or even the number of languages in the input (from two to one) will not cure or even improve the child's underlying difficulty with language. Monolingualism is not a cure for bilingual LD. The recommendation to stick to only a single language for bilingual children with LD takes language out of its social context and ignores its fundamental role as a communicative tool. Such a single language recommendation is at odds with primary tenets of the Dynamic Interactive Processing perspective of language (Kohnert, 2007) in that it considers language and communicative proficiency to be finite resources in children with LD rather than a dynamical system that can be expanded with rich input and diverse opportunities for learning and use.

Second, evidence with simultaneous bilinguals suggests that dual-language learners with LD are not at a greater disadvantage than their monolingual peers, all else being equal. Children with primary LD can learn two languages, as can children with Down syndrome or hearing impairment (Kay-Raining Bird et al., 2005; Waltzman, Robbins, Green, Cohen, 2003). Monolingual children with LD learn language, although at a slower pace and perhaps not to the same level as their unaffected peers. Similarly, bilingual children learn two languages, at a slower pace and perhaps not to the same level as their typical bilingual peers, but apparently to the same level as their monolingual peers with LD if given similar opportunities. Advocates of bilingual support are clear in their understanding that children with LD can learn two languages, although by definition not with the same facility as their peers who do not have LD.

A third problem with the recommendation to move forward in only a single language for dual-language learners with LD is the presumption that bilingualism is always a conscious choice. In many cases, bilingualism is not a choice but rather a description of very natural and common life circumstances not necessarily bad or good but rather quite simply the way things are. Inherent in these life circumstances is the fundamental need for two languages for communicative success in different environments, with different partners, for different purposes. Intervention success is determined relative to environmental demands including the ability to generalize specific communicative gains across settings and partners. Being "monolingual" in a bilingual family or community exacerbates a weakness, turning a disability into a handicap (Kohnert & Derr, 2004). By definition, intervention "success" for bilinguals requires access to two languages. Planning for gains in both languages allows the child with LD to take full advantage of previous experiences with language as well as to increase the number of opportunities to use language for meaningful interactions (cf., Gutierrez-Clellen, 1999). In contrast, discounting one of the child's languages limits his or her resources, negates previous communicative experiences, and denies future opportunities.

This page The rest of this article is not available, because you are not logged in to your SpeechPathology.com account.

Join Now to get the whole article and handouts.
This page The rest of this article is not available, because you are not logged in to your SpeechPathology.com account.

Join Now to get the whole article and handouts.
This page The rest of this article is not available, because you are not logged in to your SpeechPathology.com account.

Join Now to get the whole article and handouts.
This page The rest of this article is not available, because you are not logged in to your SpeechPathology.com account.

Join Now to get the whole article and handouts.

kathryn kohnert

Kathryn Kohnert


kathryn kohnert

Kathryn Kohnert



Related Courses

Understanding Young Onset Dementia
Presented by Kathryn M. Kilpatrick, MA, CCC-SLP
Video

Presenter

Kathryn M. Kilpatrick, MA, CCC-SLP
Course: #6863 1 Hour
  'straight forward with clear, concise examplesvery organized and succinct'   Read Reviews
When a person is younger than 65 years of age and experiencing memory difficulties, the concern is that it might be Alzheimers disease. Being proactive includes understanding the changes, connecting with appropriate resources and developing compensatory strategies.

Language RTI & Common Core: Using a Universal Language Benchmarking Process
Presented by Jennifer Preschern, MA, CCC-SLP, Angela Anthony, PhD, CCC-SLP
Video

Presenters

Jennifer Preschern, MA, CCC-SLPAngela Anthony, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #7203 2 Hours
  'The handouts were excellent'   Read Reviews
This course will cover how a Response to Intervention (RTI) model for language in kindergarten and preschool can guide schools to incorporate Common Core Standards at every Tier. Assessment and intervention at all three tiers will be discussed. In addition, using RTI to differentiate English Language Learners (ELL) from children with speech/language impairment will also be covered.

Research Watch Report, Issue 4
Presented by Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP
Text

Presenter

Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #8138 0.5 Hours
  'to the point'   Read Reviews
This collection of reviews highlights a month of clinically relevant research findings for pediatric and school-based SLPs. Topics include dialect, language disorder, and communicating with families from a strengths-based perspective.

HIPAA: Defining Privacy Issues in Speech-Language Pathology
Presented by K. Todd Houston, PhD, CCC-SLP, LSLS, Cert AVT
Video

Presenter

K. Todd Houston, PhD, CCC-SLP, LSLS, Cert AVT
Course: #1033538 1 Hour
  'Great info shared throughly!'   Read Reviews
This course will address the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and its application within Speech-Language Pathology. Topics addressed will include who and what is covered by HIPAA, administrative safeguards, penalties for non-compliance, and how HIPAA relates to other laws, such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HI-TECH) Act. US rules, regulations and laws form the foundation of this course.

Unpacking the Common Core Standards with Bloom’s Taxonomy and Socratic Questioning: Opportunities for Collaboration between Teachers and SLPs
Presented by Lara L. Wakefield, PhD, CCC-SLP, Kelly Ott, M.Ed, MHS, CCC-SLP
Video

Presenters

Lara L. Wakefield, PhD, CCC-SLPKelly Ott, M.Ed, MHS, CCC-SLP
Course: #6272 1 Hour
  'Organized in a way that increased my understanding'   Read Reviews
The advent of the Common Core Standards (CCS) presents a golden opportunity for SLPs to engage in guided collaboration with teachers. The SLP’s role in unpacking the CCS through chunking, pacing, and sequencing is described. Two tools for collaboration that assist the SLP within the framework of CCS are presented: Socratic questioning and Bloom’s Wheel. These methods encourage SLPs and Teachers to gear their educational planning towards higher order thinking skills, which is one of the main goals of CCS.