Acquisition of Definite Article + Noun Agreement of Spanish-English Bilingual Children with Specific Language Impairment

By Eng, Nancy; O'Connor, Barbara | Communication Disorders Quarterly, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview

Acquisition of Definite Article + Noun Agreement of Spanish-English Bilingual Children with Specific Language Impairment


Eng, Nancy, O'Connor, Barbara, Communication Disorders Quarterly


The objective of this study was to assess the ability of young, bilingual Spanish-English-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) to detect and produce grammatically valid "definite article + noun" forms in Spanish. We focused on this particular form because the Spanish language requires agreement between definite articles and their accompanying noun forms. In English, there is no translation equivalent for this obligatory agreement. We were interested in whether children with SLI in a bilingual environment would acquire this form in a predictable, developmental manner. Results of the study indicated that, despite their language handicap, our participants performed in a rather expected manner. That is, as a group, they were more likely to offer an accurate response when the response followed an implicit morphemic rule. Therefore, our study supports the notion that children with language delays make use of Slobin's (1973) Operating Principles, which predict that, in an attempt to understand language, children will pay attention to the occurrence of particular speech segments in the language.

In evaluating and treating bilingual children presenting with communication disorders, the clinician needs a well-established base of knowledge regarding language development in both of the languages involved before an accurate assessment can be made. As we understand bilingualism, surface structure is a primary feature that distinguishes one language from another, and, indeed, many monolingual and bilingual children have difficulties mastering the surface structures of their particular language (Hamayan & Damico, 1991). Currently, a number of challenges impede the evaluation process as well as clinical interventions for bilingual children with language delays. First, a clinically relevant body of knowledge regarding the intricacies of language learning and language impairment of both languages must be established. Second, an understanding of language-specific behaviors (e.g., the acquisition of different morpho-syntactic rules) must be achieved. Last, reliable techniques for assessing language-specific skills must be devised. Early attempts to assess bilingual children focused primarily on translating existing formal assessment tools from English into the child's other language. However, adapted versions of standardized tests weakened test constructs and, more important, did not adequately reflect the linguistic register used by the child. Furthermore, those versions could not capture all of the language-specific features of a target language (Omark & Watson, 1983). In addition, translations of standardized English tests often contain language items that are unfamiliar to children who are exposed to two languages simultaneously (e.g., Tex-Mex; DeAlivia & Havessy, 1974). Current understanding of language acquisition processes are based on studies using speakers of English, and thus this accounts for the English-specific details, such as number and person markers, but as a result, features such as quantifiers (found in Chinese, for example) and gender markers (found in Spanish, for example) are disregarded. Needless to say, the "translation approach" falls short on any measures of reliability or validity. Perhaps a more conservative but also more constructive approach would be to collect information on various structures in the non-English language and study the course of their development in children who are learning the target language. In this manner, standardized testing approaches could then be based on the course of acquisition of language-specific features.

Morphology is the aspect of language responsible for the internal organization of words, governing the use of grammatical markers as well as both derivational and inflectional affixes (Owens, 1992). Morphology and syntax have been extensively studied both within and across languages (Brown, 1973; Slobin, 1985). In his landmark study, Brown reported on the order of acquisition of 14 English morphemes, as demonstrated by three normally developing, English-speaking children. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Acquisition of Definite Article + Noun Agreement of Spanish-English Bilingual Children with Specific Language Impairment
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.