Lexical Diversity and Omission Errors as Predictors of Language Ability in the Narratives of Sequential Spanish–English Bilinguals: A Cross-Language Comparison Purpose This study explored the utility of language sample analysis for evaluating language ability in school-age Spanish–English sequential bilingual children. Specifically, the relative potential of lexical diversity and word/morpheme omission as predictors of typical or atypical language status was evaluated. Method Narrative samples were obtained from 48 bilingual ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2013
Lexical Diversity and Omission Errors as Predictors of Language Ability in the Narratives of Sequential Spanish–English Bilinguals: A Cross-Language Comparison
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Peggy F. Jacobson
    St. John's University, Queens, NY
  • Patrick R. Walden
    St. John's University, Queens, NY
  • Correspondence to Peggy F. Jacobson: jacobsop@stjohns.edu
  • Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer
    Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer×
  • Associate Editor: Elizabeth Peña
    Associate Editor: Elizabeth Peña×
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2013
Lexical Diversity and Omission Errors as Predictors of Language Ability in the Narratives of Sequential Spanish–English Bilinguals: A Cross-Language Comparison
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2013, Vol. 22, 554-565. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2013/11-0055)
History: Received May 31, 2011 , Revised February 15, 2012 , Accepted March 23, 2013
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2013, Vol. 22, 554-565. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2013/11-0055)
History: Received May 31, 2011; Revised February 15, 2012; Accepted March 23, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

Purpose This study explored the utility of language sample analysis for evaluating language ability in school-age Spanish–English sequential bilingual children. Specifically, the relative potential of lexical diversity and word/morpheme omission as predictors of typical or atypical language status was evaluated.

Method Narrative samples were obtained from 48 bilingual children in both of their languages using the suggested narrative retell protocol and coding conventions as per Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT; Miller & Iglesias, 2008) software. An additional lexical diversity measure, VocD, was also calculated. A series of logistical hierarchical regressions explored the utility of the number of different words, VocD statistic, and word and morpheme omissions in each language for predicting language status.

Results Omission errors turned out to be the best predictors of bilingual language impairment at all ages, and this held true across languages. Although lexical diversity measures did not predict typical or atypical language status, the measures were significantly related to oral language proficiency in English and Spanish.

Conclusion The results underscore the significance of omission errors in bilingual language impairment while simultaneously revealing the limitations of lexical diversity measures as indicators of impairment. The relationship between lexical diversity and oral language proficiency highlights the importance of considering relative language proficiency in bilingual assessment.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Grant 5RO3DC 07018-02 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders awarded to the first author. We are grateful to graduate research assistants Margaret Casey, Yury Cobos, Ana Contreras, Jessica Greco, and Edith Tsouri for performing transcription, coding, and reliability measurements. We also acknowledge the assistance of David Livert, who performed the statistical analysis. Deepest gratitude is extended to the children and their families who participated in the study.
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