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ERIC Number: EJ818593
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 24
ISSN: ISSN-1368-2822
Language Profiles of Monolingual and Bilingual Finnish Preschool Children at Risk for Language Impairment
Westman, Martin; Korkman, Marit; Mickos, Annika; Byring, Roger
International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, v43 n6 p699-711 Nov 2008
Background: A large proportion of children are exposed to more than one language, yet research on simultaneous bilingualism has been relatively sparse. Traditionally, there has been concern that bilingualism may aggravate language difficulties of children with language impairment. However, recent studies have not found specific language impairment (SLI) or language-related problems to be increased by bilingualism. Aims: The topic of bilingualism and its effects has high actuality in Finland, where increasing numbers of children in the country's 6% Swedish-speaking minority grow up in bilingual families, where one parent's primary language is Swedish and the other's Finnish. The present study aimed at exploring the influence of such bilingualism on the language profiles of children from this population at risk for language impairment (LI). Methods & Procedures: Participants were recruited from a language screening of 339 children from kindergartens with instruction only in Swedish, from the Swedish-speaking parts of Finland. Of these children, 33 (9.7%) were defined as a Risk Group for LI, whereas 48 non-risk children were randomly selected to form a control group. When subdividing the children according to home language, 35 were found to be monolingual, Swedish-speaking, and 46 were Swedish-Finnish bilingual. The children underwent neuropsychological assessment during their preschool year. Assessment methods included subtests from the Wechsler Primary and Preschool Scale of Intelligence-Revised and the NEPSY Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment. Outcomes & Results: A repeated-measures multiple analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) showed a significant effect of risk of LI on the NEPSY language scores. The effect of home language was not significant and there was no interaction between home language and risk for LI. Non-verbal IQ was controlled for. Across groups, bilingual children scored lower than monolingual children only on measures of vocabulary and sentence repetition. Conclusions: Although a slight general cost of bilingualism was found in the language profile of the six-year olds in this study, a bilingual background was not associated with more severe language problems in the LI Risk Group. Thus, there would seem to be no need to shield language-impaired children from opportunities for dual language learning. (Contains 3 tables and 2 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Finland