English Past Tense Use in Bilingual Children With Language Impairment Grammatical measures that distinguish language differences from language disorders in bilingual children are scarce. This study examined English past tense morphology in sequential bilingual Spanish/English-speaking children, age 7;0–9;0 (years;months). Twelve bilingual children with language impairment (LI) or history of LI and 15 typically developing (TD) bilingual children participated. Thirty-six instances ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 01, 2005
English Past Tense Use in Bilingual Children With Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Peggy F. Jacobson
    St. John’s University, Queens, NY
  • Richard G. Schwartz
    City University of New York
  • Contact author: Peggy F. Jacobson, Department of Speech, Communication Sciences, and Theatre, St. John’s University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, NY11439.
    Contact author: Peggy F. Jacobson, Department of Speech, Communication Sciences, and Theatre, St. John’s University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, NY11439.×
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: jacobsop@stjohns.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 2005
English Past Tense Use in Bilingual Children With Language Impairment
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2005, Vol. 14, 313-323. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2005/030)
History: Received February 1, 2004 , Revised August 3, 2004 , Accepted August 19, 2005
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2005, Vol. 14, 313-323. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2005/030)
History: Received February 1, 2004; Revised August 3, 2004; Accepted August 19, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 29

Grammatical measures that distinguish language differences from language disorders in bilingual children are scarce. This study examined English past tense morphology in sequential bilingual Spanish/English-speaking children, age 7;0–9;0 (years;months). Twelve bilingual children with language impairment (LI) or history of LI and 15 typically developing (TD) bilingual children participated. Thirty-six instances of the past tense including regular, irregular, and novel verbs were examined using an elicited production task. By examining English past tense morphology in sequential bilinguals, we uncovered similarities and differences in the error patterns of TD children and children with LI. The groups differed in the overall accuracy of past tense use according to verb type, as well as the characteristic error patterns. Children with LI performed lower than their TD peers on all verb categories, with an interaction between verb type and group. TD children were better at producing regular verbs and exhibited more productive errors (e.g., overregularization). Conversely, children with LI performed relatively better on irregular verbs and poorest on novel verbs, and they exhibited more nonproductive errors (e.g., bare stem verbs). The results have important clinical implications for the assessment of morphological productivity in Spanish-speaking children who are learning English sequentially.

Acknowledgments
We thank the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation for supporting this study through the Arlene Matkin Award for Research in Child Language. Support was also provided by National Institutes of Health Grants RO1DC 03885 and R03DC 07018-01A1 and Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York Grant 627340031. We are very grateful to the children and parents who participated. We appreciate the cooperation of Assistant Superintendent John R. Heintz and Principal Larry Nagy at the Central Islip School District, and thank speech-language pathologist Mary Ramirez Torres, who performed the reliability measures. We also owe tremendous thanks to David Rindskopf for his insightful suggestions regarding the statistical analyses and to David Livert, statistical consultant, for his expertise in hierarchical linear modeling. This article is based on a dissertation (“Elicited Production and Grammaticality Judgments by Sequential Spanish/English Bilingual Children With Specific Language Impairment,” May 2002) completed by Peggy Jacobson under the supervision of Richard Schwartz.
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