Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
O'Toole, C. and NÝ Shithigh, D.;
Child Language Seminar
Designing a receptive vocabulary test for bilingual Irish speakers.
Newcastle, UK
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields

Understanding the normative pattern of language acquisition is critical for speech and language therapists in order to assess, treat and set therapy goals for clients. Unfortunately, there are limited resources available for speech and language therapists in Ireland to assess Irish-speaking children, all of whom are bilingual. Furthermore, Irish speakers have statutory language rights, which means that they are entitled to speech and language therapy services in Irish. Assessment of vocabulary knowledge is a critical area for speech and language therapists because scores on language measures correlate with later reading and academic ability (Burton & Watkins, 2007). This study investigated the receptive vocabulary of children aged between five and seven years old based on three different language backgrounds. Using the model from Welsh of Gathercole, Thomas & Hughes (2008) children were divided into three bilingual categories for normative purposes: those who spoke only Irish, those who spoke Irish and English and those who spoke only English in the home. Fifty-eight typically developing children were recruited from a major Irish-speaking region in the South West of Ireland. Each participant was assessed using a specifically designed receptive vocabulary assessment. The assessment included 100 Irish words ranging from high to low frequency. Each participant┐s response was scored and a raw score was assigned to each. Results indicated that children from homes where only Irish was spoken performed significantly better on the assessment compared to children in the other language groups. However, children in the bilingual group did not perform significantly better than children who only spoke English at home. Age also had implications for vocabulary knowledge in that seven year old children performed significantly better than the five and six year olds, although there was no significant difference between the six and seven year olds. The findings have implications for developing assessments for minority language populations

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