Does simultaneous bilingualism aggravate childrens specific language problems

Acta Pediatrica, 05/24/2012

Korkman M et al. – Simultaneous bilingualism does not aggravate specific language problems but may result in a slower development of vocabulary both in children with and without specific language problems. Considering also advantages, a bilingual upbringing is an option also for children with specific language problems. In assessment, tests of vocabulary may be sensitive to bilingualism, instead tests assessing comprehension, syntax and non–word repetition may provide less biased methods.

Methods

  • Participants were 5- to 7-year-old children with specific language problems (LANG group, N = 56) or who were typically developing (CONTR group, N = 60).
  • Seventy-three children were Swedish-Finnish bilingual and 43 were Swedish-speaking monolingual.
  • Assessments (in Swedish) included tests of expressive language, comprehension, repetition and verbal memory.

Results

  • Per definition, the LANG group had lower scores than the CONTR group on all language tests.
  • The bilingual group had lower scores than the monolingual group only on a test of body part naming. Importantly, the interaction of group (LANG or CONTR) and bilingualism was not significant on any of the language scores.

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