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by Liliana Diaz
August 31, 2022
So you have a bilingual student on your speech caseload and you are unsure which language intervention should be in. Perhaps the student is exposed to (insert any language here) at home and is receiving English-only instruction at school. Questions you are probably wondering are: Should speech/language intervention be in the home language or the language of instruction? Should speech therapy be in the child's most dominant language? Should speech therapy be in both languages? But how do I target both languages in intervention? And will using both languages in intervention hinder the student's progress with therapy? These are all great questions and if you are wondering the answers then keep reading because the answers are below!
Often times, school-based SLPs are faced with the pressure of being told that speech therapy should only be in the language of instruction. The reason behind this idea is the underlying belief that the student should be able to access the academic curriculum and the only way to do this is by focusing on the language of instruction (most often times English). Yes, the student should be able to access the curriculum, but ELL academic supports should already be in place for the student in the classroom. Supporting the idea of focusing only on the language of instruction in speech therapy can have negative consequences on the bilingual student's language skills, family dynamic, cultural values, social-emotional learning and much more. Speech therapy should always support both languages for bilingual students and here's why.
Providing therapy in the home language is crucial for the child's social-emotional development, family dynamic and family ties. Therefore, ignoring the home language is doing a disservice to your students. According to Dr. Brian A. Goldstein, author of Bilingual Language Development & Disorders in Spanish-English Speakers "for immigrant children with family members who do not speak the community language, preservation of the home language is paramount for maintaining the intergenerational family connections and cultural links required for adequate social-emotional development."
Of course there is also the argument that speech therapy should be in the child's most dominant language because that's the child's strongest language, therefore, easier to work on which will lead to faster gains. However, this underlying belief discounts the second language and reinforces the idea that one language is "better" than the other. With this approach, we are unknowingly creating a language preference for the child which also leads to negative consequences as mentioned above.
It is natural to believe that intervention in the dominant language will be more effective if it builds on the child's existing skills however, this belief discounts the interactions that happen between both languages. After all, a bilingual student is not two monolingual students in one. A bilingual student will naturally have a certain set of strengths and skills in both languages. In addition, this belief reinforces the idea that language is constant across time and this simply isn't true. Bilingualism is fluid and a bilingual student's language proficiency can change over time depending on several factors (environment, exposure, use, etc.) Therefore, sticking to one language permanently during intervention will not always work.
The simple answer is YES! But keep in mind that supporting both languages does not necessarily mean always using both languages in a single session. It really depends student to student and according to Dr. Brian A. Goldstein, we need to be able to utilize a holistic and interactive view of bilingual development when planning the student's intervention goals.
There are two approaches that you can take when providing speech therapy to a bilingual student. The first is a bilingual approach which simultaneously directs attention to improving communication competency in both languages. This is done by ensuring that speech/language therapy goals include shared features between the both languages. For example, you might create an articulation goal for initial /k/ for your Spanish-English speaking student because initial /k/ exists in both languages. Another example is that you might create a language goal of plural -s for your Spanish-English speaking student because plural -s also exists in both languages.
The second approach is a cross-linguistic approach which focuses on the linguistic features that are unique to each language. In therapy, you might focus on non-overlapping features which may be at the sound level, meaning, structural level and/or even pragmatic level. An example at the sound level would be such as targeting trilled R in Spanish and vocalic R in English on separate occasions throughout the school year.
Absolutely not. Using both languages in intervention will only improve your bilingual student's communication skills which will lead to greater carry-over of the taught skill.
Questions? Comments? Let me know below :)
September 08, 2022
Languages are illogical and defy the rules, especially English. In my experience comparing and contrasting the different languages is essential. Social discourse is learned children to children faster than by teacher instruction but the understanding of differences in syntax, in sounds, etc need teacher clarification.
Are you teaching spoken English or are you teaching skills necessary to learn English by exposure?
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by Liliana Diaz
January 12, 2023
Perhaps you recently got assigned to a new school or site that consists of a large bilingual and/or multilingual caseload, and perhaps you're not bilingual. Not speaking the student's language can be quite overwhelming and stressful (trust me, I've been there!). I know the feeling of not quite knowing where to start in intervention, or not knowing how to support your students. Well luckily, bilingual SLP, Ingrid Owens-Gonzalez has some important tips to share with all SLPs. Here are 3 things Monolingual SLPs can do to support bilingual populations today.
by Liliana Diaz
December 12, 2022
Finding good CEUs can be difficult especially when you want to find relevant courses that are affordable and applicable to your current job setting. If you are coming towards the end of your ASHA CEU cycle, or if you simply want to learn more about best practices when working with culturally and linguistically diverse students then keep reading because I have compiled a list of great CEU courses/providers that every bilingual (& monolingual) SLP should look into.
by Liliana Diaz
August 06, 2022
The trilled R is a very common phoneme in a variety of languages and probably one of the hardest sounds to produce and teach. In Spanish, trilled R is a high occurrence phoneme and a simple misarticulation can easily change the meaning of a word (Example: Carro vs. Caro / Car & Expensive). For that reason, I am here to help you! I am going to break down the steps that I take when teaching my students how to trill the R sound.
Welcome! I am Bilingual Speechie and this is my speech therapy blog! Here you will find bilingual (English & Spanish) resources & activities for speech language therapy! I am here to make the lives of all bilingual SLPs easier!
My name is Liliana Diaz-Vazquez and I obtained my bachelor’s degree in communication disorders in 2012 and my master’s degree in speech language pathology at Saint Xavier University in 2014.
I am a certified, licensed bilingual speech language pathologist (SLP) currently practicing in Chicago, Illinois. I have a passion with working with the bilingual population! I specialize in pediatrics with children ranging in ages from 1-18 years old and I predominantly serve bilingual and predominately Spanish-speaking students in general education programs, blended preschool programs and low-incidence programs.
I currently work full time in the public-school setting and part time in early intervention. I also run my own blog and create all sorts of bilingual resources/activities which I use with my own clients. I have extensive experience treating and evaluating a variety of disorders. I have worked with children with autism, Down syndrome, cognitive impairments, learning disabilities, apraxia, fluency disorders, language disorders and developmental delays.
My areas of expertise include augmentative/alternative communication (AAC), bilingual language development and the assessment and treatment of language delays/disorders in bilingual children.
I am a certified member of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) since 2014, a member of the Illinois Speech and Hearing Association (ISHA) since 2014 and maintain licensure in the state of Illinois.
Aside from working with families and children, I am a part time foodie! Follow me on social media to check out all my food adventures within Chicago!