Assessing Language Learnability Assessment for children from culturally/linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds has always been problematic. Children are both overand under-identified as having language impairments. Reliance on traditional assessments currently available frequently results in over- identification of children because children may not be familiar with the content of the tests or the types of ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2000
Assessing Language Learnability
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Deborah Hwa-Froelich
    Saint Louis University
  • Carol E. Westby
    Wichita State University and University of New Mexico
  • Marlene Schommer-Aikins
    Wichita State University
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Articles
Article   |   December 01, 2000
Assessing Language Learnability
Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, December 2000, Vol. 6, 1-6. doi:10.1044/cds6.3.1
Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, December 2000, Vol. 6, 1-6. doi:10.1044/cds6.3.1
Assessment for children from culturally/linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds has always been problematic. Children are both overand under-identified as having language impairments. Reliance on traditional assessments currently available frequently results in over- identification of children because children may not be familiar with the content of the tests or the types of interactions necessary to complete the tasks being presented. Efforts are being made to improve standardized, formal assessment for CLD children.
The National Institutes of Health is currently funding two, multi-million dollar projects to develop standardized tests for Spanish-English bilingual and African-American children ages 4 to 6 years (Iglesias, 2000; Seymour, 2000). Developers of these tools are attempting to take into account the linguistic characteristics of the languages of the children being assessed and children’s familiarity with the nature of the tasks they are being asked to do. Although assessments are well designed, they will benefit a limited age range of children from only two CLD groups. Because of the cost of test development, it is highly unlikely that language assessments will be developed for other, smaller CLD populations. For many other non-mainstream and non-English speaking groups, there is a need to establish protocols for determining children’s language learnability (i.e., how quickly and easily children are able to learn language). If children’s language learning abilities are significantly slower than those of other children’s from similar language and experiential backgrounds, they are at considerable risk for academic failure. Early identification can provide a basis for intervention that can reduce a cycle of failure.
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