Identifying specific language impairment in monolingual and bilingual children: Executive functions and linguistic processing
01 / 2011 - 12 / 2013
Tweetalige kinderen maken taalfouten. Sommigen hebben last van een taalstoornis, terwijl anderen dat niet hebben. Maken tweetalige kinderen fouten omdat ze tweetalig zijn of vanwege de taalstoornis? Dit project beoogt erachter te komen hoe deze twee te onderscheiden.
Bilinguals attending special schools for the language impaired in the Netherlands are overrepresented by twelve percent, which hints at possible cases of misdiagnoses. Specific language impairment (SLI) is a developmental language disorder affecting seven percent of children. Due to the absence of a commonly accepted clinical marker, identifying SLI is difficult, particularly in bilinguals. In immigrant settings, SLI is usually diagnosed on the basis of second language. However, the language problems in L2 could either stem from SLI or poor L2 acquisition. Accordingly, it is sometimes not possible to distinguish the effects of SLI and typical bilingual development (TBD) on L2. The aim is to reveal a distinguishing characteristic that can identify SLI both in monolinguals and bilinguals. Previous research shows that children with SLI suffer from linguistic impairments and, unlike typically developing bilinguals (TDB), bilingual children with SLI (BISLI) perform poorly on cognitive abilities controlling and regulating other abilities and behavior, namely the executive functions (EF). This project explores the existence of a causal link between EF and linguistic impairments by measuring both specific EF performance and the processing of linguistic structures that require the use of the same EF, and investigating the correlation between the two. The subjects are Turkish-Dutch BISLI and monolingual Turkish SLI children (MOSLI) and their TDB and monolingual peers. If a correlation between impaired EF and linguistic processing exists, impaired EF may be considered as a distinguishing characteristic of SLI. This could also distinguish the effects of SLI and TBD since impaired EF could cause poor linguistic processing in both languages for BISLI. Contributions to society and science are: better diagnosis and treatment of SLI; prevention of the talent-loss caused by misdiagnoses; significant cost-savings due to correct diagnoses; and better understanding of the relationship between cognition and (a)typical language acquisition in monolinguals and bilinguals.