Speech-language pathologists' assessment and intervention practices with multilingual children
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Within predominantly English-speaking countries such as the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, there are a significant number of people who speak languages other than English. This study aimed to examine Australian speech-language pathologists’ (SLPs) perspectives and experiences of multilingualism, including their assessment and intervention practices, and service delivery methods when working with children who speak languages other than English. A questionnaire was completed by 128 SLPs who attended an SLP seminar about cultural and linguistic diversity. Approximately one half of the SLPs (48.4%) reported that they had at least minimal competence in a language(s) other than English; but only 12 (9.4%) reported that they were proficient in another language. The SLPs spoke a total of 28 languages other than English, the most common being French, Italian, German, Spanish, Mandarin, and Auslan (Australian sign language). Participants reported that they had, in the past 12 months, worked with a mean of 59.2 (range 1–100) children from multilingual backgrounds. These children were reported to speak between two and five languages each; the most common being: Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Australian Indigenous languages, Tagalog, Greek, and other Chinese languages.There was limited overlap between the languages spoken by the SLPs and the children on the SLPs’ caseloads. Many of the SLPs assessed children's speech (50.5%) and/or language (34.2%) without assistance from others (including interpreters). English was the primary language used during assessments and intervention. The majority of SLPs always used informal speech (76.7%) and language (78.2%) assessments and, if standardized tests were used, typically they were in English. The SLPs sought additional information about the children's languages and cultural backgrounds, but indicated that they had limited resources to discriminate between speech and language difference vs disorder.
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