Psycholinguistic Abilities and Phonological Working Memory in Bilingual Children with Specific Language Impairment: A Cross-Cultural Study, pp. 65-80
Authors: Dolors Girbau, University Jaume I, Castelló, Spain
Abstract: A variety of concepts/types of bilingualism and bilingual programs in U.S.A./Europe are presented. The cognitive benefits of bilingual education across several languages are reviewed. Diagnosis and intervention issues in bilingual children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) / Typical Language Development (TLD) are discussed, including some behavioral and neurophysiology findings concerning language processes. A cross-cultural study was done by comparing children from U.S.A. (with SLI/TLD) and children from Spain (with SLI/TLD), who were involved in a larger project (Girbau & Schwartz, 2007, 2008). Forty-four sequential bilingual children (7;6-10;11 years old), with L1 = Spanish and L2 = English/Catalan, participated. The psycholinguistic abilities in any bilingual group with TLD were significantly higher than in any bilingual group with SLI (Spanish-English/Spanish-Catalan). The similarities of the cross-cultural profiles are discussed. Only children with TLD from Spain produced significantly more correct non-words (in the Spanish Non-word Repetition Task) than children with TLD from U.S.A. (who were exposed to English phonetics). This cross-cultural difference was not found for children with SLI; they all performed poorly in U.S.A. and Spain. The Spanish task was a good marker for SLI in both countries. Our results support the phonological working memory deficit associated with SLI, which appears to be independent of the particular bilingual background. The English Non-word Repetition Task was not sensitive in identifying SLI in these Hispanic unbalanced bilinguals, since English was their L2; their phonotactic representations in L1 seem to determine their performance on the task.