Speech Assessment in Bilingual Children: Relationship between Perceptual Judgments of Accent/Comprehensibility and Formal Test Measures

  • Author / Creator
    Limacher, Stephanie
  • There is a paucity of research examining how the presence of an accent may affect speech-language pathologists’ (SLP) assessments of bilingual children. Generally, assessment tools normed on monolingual children cannot be used to make diagnostic decisions about whether a bilingual child has a speech delay or disorder. The questions that framed this study were: 1) how do bilingual children’s scores compare to their monolingual peers on standardized tests of articulation (Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation, 3rd Edition (GFTA-3)) and nonword repetition (NWR), and SLP’s perceptual ratings of accentedness and comprehensibility? and 2) do perceptual ratings of accentedness and comprehensibility correlate with scores from the NWR and GFTA-3? The present study assessed 34 children, 17 bilingual and 17 monolingual, using parent report, the GFTA-3, the NWR subtest from the CTOPP-2, and a sentence imitation task. Ten SLPs were presented with audio recordings of sentences produced by the children and asked to rate them for accentedness and comprehensibility. The bilingual group’s GFTA-3 scores were lower than the monolingual group’s scores but there was no significant difference between the groups on NWR scores. The SLPs’ perceptual ratings of accentedness were higher for the bilingual group than for the monolingual group, but there were no significant group differences for the comprehensibility ratings. The comprehensibility ratings were positively correlated with the accentedness ratings, indicating that speech with more of an accent was perceived as harder to understand. The comprehensibility ratings were also negatively correlated with the NWR subtest, indicating that the harder the children were to understand overall, the more likely they were to score lower on the NWR task. This study did not find that the SLPs’ comprehensibility ratings were correlated with the lower GFTA-3 scores. Though the accentedness ratings were indeed higher for the bilingual group as one would expect, the monolingual group also received accentedness ratings, which one would not expect from a group of children raised with only English exposure. Furthermore, the overall correlation between accentedness and comprehensibility ratings suggests that accent may be playing a role in the SLPs’ perception of how easy the child is to understand.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
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