2008–2009 Projects on Multicultural Activities

Bilingual Performance on an Object and Action Battery: Preliminary Normative Data in Spanish and English

Lisa A. Edmonds
University of Florida

The U.S. has the fifth largest Spanish-speaking community in the world, with 30 million citizens (12% of the population) that speak Spanish. The Hispanic elderly population is expected to increase from <4 percent of the total elderly population in 1990 to 16 percent by the middle of the next century. Hispanics are 30% more likely than non-Hispanic Caucasians to have a stroke, and thus are at a greater risk for aphasia.

Lexical retrieval impairments are the most common deficit in aphasia. As a result, a fundamental aspect of aphasia evaluation is testing naming abilities. However, there are no available naming tests developed specifically for Spanish-English populations in the United States. Providing bilingual normative data on available naming tests is an alternative until appropriate tests can be developed.

The purpose of this study was to 1) examine naming performance of Spanish-English bilingual adult speakers on An Object and Action Naming Battery (Druks and Masterson, 2000), and 2) identify which language use/history and self-ratings factors best predicted naming performance in English and Spanish. The overall goal was to generally evaluate whether this test, which was developed for monolingual English speakers, would be appropriate to use in some form with Spanish/English bilinguals.

The preliminary results of the classical and Rasch analyses revealed a large number of noun and verb items able to distinguish between different levels of naming proficiency in English and Spanish for Spanish/English bilinguals.

Evidenced-Based Language Screening Procedures for Young Spanish Speakers (ELYSA)

Mark Guiberson
University of Northern Colorado

Young children who have delayed language development are at risk for a number of concomitant developmental problems, including delays in social, behavioral, and academic development. Early intervention with children with language delays is critically important; many studies have demonstrated that early childhood is the greatest time of developmental change, and that children who receive early intervention demonstrate favorable long-term outcomes. Thus, identifying children at risk for language and learning problems is of paramount importance during early childhood. As a result, early childhood programs such as Head Start have made screening of preschoolers a priority.

Twenty seven percent of children enrolled in Head Start programs are from homes where languages other than English are spoken; 82% of these children are from Spanish speaking families and this percentage is expected to increase. Nationwide surveys have demonstrated that most SLPs lack confidence when assessing Spanish bilingual children and when working with parents who do not speak English. Many SLPs report the lack of adequate assessment tools and inability to speak a child's language as obstacles to serving/assessing linguistically diverse children.

The objectives of this project were 1) to increase normative data on language development in Spanish monolingual and emergent bilingual children, specifically in the area of screening procedures 2) and, to develop a collaboration between the University of Northern Colorado Audiology and Speech Language Sciences program and the Colorado Head Start community in developing evidence based screening procedures for Spanish speaking children. The primary investigator is collaborating with Dr. Barbara Rodriguez (University of New Mexico) in authoring a manuscript that describes the clinical usefulness and the sensitivity and specificity of the two tools used in this study.

Pathway to Excellence: Increasing the Number, Diversity and Cultural Competence of the Membership

Judith B. King
Northern Arizona University

Given only a mere 0.3% of the SLPs nationwide are Native American, this project responded to one of ASHA's Strategic Plan objectives: to increase the number, diversity and cultural competence of the Membership.

Because Northern Arizona University (NAU) is situated at the border of the largest Native American (Navajo) Nation in the U.S. and encircles the Hopi Reservation, it consistently ranks among the top three institutions in Native American enrollment, leading the nation in granting degrees to Native American students. Similarly, NAU's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) is well known for its successful efforts in recruiting and graduating Native American students and has an established record for obtaining graduate level funding for that group of students. Proud of it strong curriculum and the high PRAXIS exam pass record of its mainstream graduates, the program is also aware that for its Native American graduates, comparisons of those who pass the PRAXIS are negligible. Losing heart after repeated yet failed attempts to pass the PRAXIS, this group of Native American graduates simply give up, returning to their homeland with a sense of failure, in spite of having completed their graduate degree. Their dream of ASHA membership grows dim, as does any hope of impacting the number, diversity and cultural competence of the Membership.

The objectives of this project were (1) to develop an intensive, systematic intervention plan to support six CSD Native American graduates in passing the PRAXIS. Four participants had already graduated and were working as non-certified professionals on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations; the other two were currently enrolled in the CSD Summers Only program and were working on the Reservations as non-certified professionals; and (2) on passing the PRAXIS, to partner the current six-student cohort with Reservation-employed, certified, Native American SLPs (also CSD alumni to serve as their CFY supervisors).

The systematic, intervention plan was made up of several components: 1) a combination of three, 7-hour face-to-face and video conferencing sessions (requiring participant enrollment in 1 credit Independent Study) with study sessions at 4-weeks, 2-weeks and one day before the PRAXIS exam, 2) partnering the current cohort of Native American graduates with the aforementioned Native American SLPS who were to serve as mentors/supervisors and a current CSD graduate student who was to serve as their PRAXIS study partner, and finally (3) all project participants participated daily in the American Psychological Association's Mind Habits Program, a tool documented to help users reduce stress and boost self confidence and esteem.

The PRAXIS lecture series was professionally videotaped "live" using NAU's ITV services. All CSD students have access to the entire set of PRAXIS lectures and the accompanying handouts as well.

The PRAXIS exam results revealed that none of the four participants who took the exam- using the extended time for non-Native speakers of English- passed. Following this outcome, two participants dropped out of the project. On a repeat attempt, one participant passed and applied for ASHA membership.

Supporting Acquisition of Language and Literacy Through School-Home Based Activities (SALSA)

Lena G. Caesar
Andrews University

The improvement of literacy outcomes among language minority students has become a significant area of concern among educators, clinicians, and lawmakers. Research indicates that Spanish-speaking English Language Learners (ELLs) are twice as likely as their monolingual English-speaking peers to demonstrate sub-average literacy skills. Findings from the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority children and Youth indicate that English oral proficiency is an important prerequisite for bilingual children's literacy development. One aspect of oral proficiency that especially warrants attention is that of narrative abilities.

The primary objective of this project was to examine the efficacy of a parent-school collaborative language and literacy intervention, Supporting the Acquisition of Language and Literacy through School-Home Activities (SALSA), for Spanish-speaking Head Start children. The intervention was designed to promote parents' abilities to support language and emergent literacy development in their preschool children through a parent-child journaling activity. The project's specific objectives were to: (a) pilot a literacy and language intervention method in the domain of narrative development using parent-supported journaling approach; (b) determine the efficacy of the intervention on children's narrative abilities; (c) provide parents with the skills and opportunities for encouraging language-focused parent-child interactions; (d) enhance the knowledge and competence of Head Start teachers regarding bilingual and language-literacy issues in the context of oral-written school-home connections; and (e) disseminate results in professional and scholarly venues.

Subjects of the study were 12 preschool children between the ages of 3 and 5, enrolled in a Migrant Head Start Center in southwest Michigan. An equivalent number of age-matched peers were randomly assigned to a control group. The study utilized an experimental, pretest-treatment-posttest design, and focused on expanding children's ability to produce oral narratives in English and Spanish based on simple drawings provided by parents in a take-home journal. This parent-provided journal content served as the basis not only for literacy enrichment in the classroom, but also for oral language enrichment therapy provided by speech-langue pathology and audiology students.

Research involved the collaboration of two university programs- Andrews University and Western Michigan University. Findings indicated that children in the experimental group outperformed their control peers on early literacy measures related to print concepts and alphabetic principles. Also, both groups demonstrated higher language and literacy gains in Spanish than in English. 

2008–2009 Review Panel

Thomas J. Hallahan
Karyn B. Helms
Amee P. Shah
Yasmeen F. Shah
Greta T. Tan
Ying-Chiao Tsao

ASHA Corporate Partners