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assessment, bilingual, disorders, intervention, speech and language development



  1. Goldstein, Brian A. PhD


Assessing and treating bilingual children with speech and language disorders is difficult given the relative paucity of data on the speech and language skills of typically developing bilingual children and those with speech and language disorders. The purpose of this article is to review the research that is available with regard to clinical implications for bilingual children with suspected speech and language disorders. Existing studies indicate that speech and language development in bilingual children is similar, although not identical, to that of their monolingual peers. Studies of bilingual children with speech and language disorders, though even more limited in number and scope, also point to similarities. On the other hand, research provides evidence that language skills are not distributed equally in the bilingual child's 2 languages and that sociolinguistic factors influence the bilingual child's language skills in predictable ways. Such patterns lead to recommendations for clinicians to move beyond questions of language dominance in assessment and intervention to focus on both languages to determine the contribution of each language to the child's overall language skills and the contexts in which they should be encouraged. Specifically, 3 themes emerge from the research literature on bilingual language development and disorders that have specific clinical implications and will be discussed in this article: (1) complete a comprehensive assessment examining skills in both languages; (2) consider sociolinguistic variables by examining the interaction between those variables and bilingual children's language skills; and (3) provide intervention in both languages, thus supporting development of the child's 2 languages.