In this article on Spanglish Baby the author summarizes an article about a parent, who is a teacher, that discusses her experience when her child failed a screening for language delays at her son's school. This parent also learned that at her preschool all Spanish speakers had also failed it. When she went for a complete individualized evaluation she learned her son is developing just fine! She also found out that this is a common occurrence and that in fact the assessments used maybe inappropriate for bilingual children as they assume children are monolingual. The fact is that bilingual children know as much as monolinguals but they know it in two languages. If you use a monolingual test, children may look as they are lagging behind the norming sample of students they are being compared to
Is it s language disorder/disability or a typical development process of bilingual and trilinguals? How do you know?
Here are my research-based recommendations:
Require that they do a complete family, medical, and educational history of your child
Required that they use multiple assessment by multiple assessors that are trained in administering assessments in the language of your child
Require that a home and classroom observation be conducted that monitor language in the natural context
Require that teachers monitor orla language development in both languages
Require that teachers monitor reading development in the language or languages of instruction
Require that your child is compared to a “true peer” not a monolingual but a child who has a similar background, culture, educational experiences, etc as your own child
Require that if an cognitive or intelligence test is required that they give a nonverbal test rather than language based test
Require that an outside expert be consulted, visit Center for Applied Linguistics for some additional information
Require that they consider all programs that support native language instruction be provided and offered
Here is the link to the Spanglish Baby Website
Here is the link to the California Teacher Association Magazine
Here is a link for education professionals on the topic:
My response in the RTI Action Network on Services for English Language learners with and without disabilities.
English Language Learners with Disabilities
Do you have any additional ideas to share?
Claudia is a Full Professor of Education and Chair of the Education Program at Lasell University. Claudia is a researcher, consultant, and teacher educator committed to addressing the needs of bilingual students who are learning English and have a disability.