Schlagwort-Archive: bilingual children

What can we learn from immigrant students’ use of digital media?

It goes without saying that digital media now feature in almost all aspects of our daily lives. Not limited by national borders, they can open up new opportunities to develop language, literacy and social skills in globally relevant ways. In this regard, immigrant students have resources that are crucial to learning in the 21st century. Eva Lam argues that their digital practices must therefore be understood and leveraged in formal education settings.

Lam confirms that immigrant students in the US mostly use digital media for communication and for retrieving information. They communicate with peers and family in the US as well as in their countries of origin. They also access news from the US, their native countries and other parts of the world. Not only do students use several languages in these online activities, but they also broaden their perspectives on current events by having access to various resources.

Lam refers to a project conducted in a US high school with immigrant students and their peers on multimedia storytelling. Students gathered documents on immigration policy from different sources, interviewed members of their own communities regarding immigration experiences, and created a video documentary to show to others. Participating students could draw on their language skills, digital networks and access to different resources in the process of learning. Moreover, their linguistic and media literacy skills were acknowledged and valued as part of the exercise. By immigrant students having access to numerous linguistic, social and cultural contexts, other students gain insights into different societies and media reporting. Students in the classroom can discuss problems and issues from all over the world from different points of view including the local, national and transnational. Immigrant students in particular can be shown that their multilingual and media literacy skills are appreciated and can be encouraged to use and deepen them.

– Lilian Kreimann

Lam, W. S. E. (2012). What immigrant students can teach us about new media literacy. Phi Delta Kappan 94:4 (December 2012/January 2013), 62-65.

Diagnosing specific language impairment (SLI) in bilingual children: A study from Utrecht

Research suggests that bilingual children who speak one language at home and another in school are frequently misdiagnosed when a language delay is suspected. What exactly causes this delay? Is it insufficient exposure to the language of schooling? Or should other child-internal factors, such as specific language impairment (SLI), be considered?

To improve diagnosis, a newly developed test was scrutinized by researchers in the city of Utrecht, Netherlands. Known as a ‘non-word repetition task’ (NWRT), this test contains a list of non-existing words that children have to read aloud within two minutes. Because these words are non-existing, children cannot possibly rely on their own memory or recognition of words. This gives researchers insight into the real technical reading skills of the child and is therefore considered a reliable tool in diagnosing language impairments such as SLI.

One drawback of the NWRT for bilingual children is that the non-words are based on the language of schooling, which can be too limiting when testing children who speak another language in the home. Hence, for the newly developed test, researchers tried to design ‘quasi-universal’ non-words instead of language-specific ones. These non-existing words contain features of many languages and are designed to test the reading and pronunciation skills of speakers of different languages.

It is, however, very challenging to design a test that is independent of specific language. This study from Utrecht examined whether the researchers had indeed succeeded in doing so and thereby developing a more accurate tool for diagnosing bilinguals with specific language impairment.

They used a large group of 5-6 year olds, divided into smaller groups of monolinguals and bilinguals, including those displaying typical language development and those with SLI. The children were asked to complete both types of NWRT: the language-specific and ‘quasi-universal’ test. The study showed the success of developing quasi-universal non-words as this test was more accurate in diagnosing language impairment in bilingual children. While bilinguals’ performance in the two types of test was shown to be different, the monolingual children performed almost the same on both tests.

This newly developed test has only been scrutinized in the Dutch context and further testing across other languages is required. Yet the key take-home message is that this quasi-universal NWRT has great potential in diagnosing SLI as the source of linguistic delay in bilingual children.

– Anouk Ticheloven

Boerma, T., Chiat, S., Leseman, P., Timmermeister, M., Wijnen, F., & Blom, E. (2015). A Quasi-Universal Nonword Repetition Task as a Diagnostic Tool for Bilingual Children Learning Dutch as a Second Language. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research58, 1747-1760.