Assessing Vocabulary and the Bilingual Environment in Young Latino Children The number of young Latino children in the United States who grow up learning two languages is rapidly increasing. With the growing number of Latino families in this country, questions arise about how to best promote the language development of young children who are exposed to two languages from ... Article
Article  |   March 01, 2006
Assessing Vocabulary and the Bilingual Environment in Young Latino Children
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judith R. Cruzado-Guerrero
    Towson University, Towson, MD
  • Judith J. Carta
    Juniper Gardens Children's Project University of Kansas, Kansas City, KS
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Articles
Article   |   March 01, 2006
Assessing Vocabulary and the Bilingual Environment in Young Latino Children
Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, March 2006, Vol. 13, 8-13. doi:10.1044/cds13.1.8
Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, March 2006, Vol. 13, 8-13. doi:10.1044/cds13.1.8
The number of young Latino children in the United States who grow up learning two languages is rapidly increasing. With the growing number of Latino families in this country, questions arise about how to best promote the language development of young children who are exposed to two languages from birth. These children are referred to as simultaneous bilingual children, and understanding how they develop vocabulary in their bilingual situations and how their acquisition of new words is influenced by their environment poses considerable challenges for researchers and speech and language practitioners.
While bilingual development in young children occurs in different ways in many countries around the world (Lanza, 1997; Leopold, 1949; Peal & Lambert, 1962; Volterra & Taeschner, 1978), in the United States early bilingual development usually occurs in one of two ways: (1) when children are exposed to two languages in the home with family members or (2) when children hear one language at home and another language outside the home, such as in a child care situation or early education setting. The vocabularies developing from exposure to two distinct environments may be quite different and could be misunderstood by practitioners as language disorders (Genesee, Paradis, & Crago, 2004). Thus, clinicians must be sure to assess children who are developing language in two languages with tools and procedures that are appropriate to their specific cultural and linguistic characteristics (National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC], 2005). This article discusses these assessment issues based on results from a study that examined expressive language development in Latino children. These children were part of a longitudinal study carried out in an Early Head Start (EHS) program in a Midwestern U.S. city (Carta & Atwater, 2003).
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