Language assessment of native Irish speaking children: towards developing diagnostic testing for speech and language therapy practice.
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Knowledge of typical language development, where available, is used as a comparative tool for the education of referral agents as well as for the efficacious assessment and treatment of language difficulties in children. Differing challenging structures or “problem spaces” (Bates, 2004, p.248) across languages result in differing patterns of development across languages. This cross-linguistic variety means that, for clinical purposes, knowledge of typical language development needs to be language specific (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 1985; Bates, Devescovi & Wulfeck, 2001; Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, 2005; Thordardottir, 2005; Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists, 2006). The aim of this thesis is to investigate typical Irish language production in bilingual L1 Irish speaking children for clinical purposes. Specifically, multiple language measures, including many which have been found to develop with age and differentiate between typical and atypical language development in other languages, were used to investigate the effects that age, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), birth order and quantity and quality of input have on language development. For this investigation, quasi-spontaneous language sampling data as well as questionnaires were used. The corpus of quasi-spontaneous language data were collected by audio-recording L1 Irish speaking children and parents narrating stories with the support and common context of a picture book. The parents’ data were used in the analysis of the quality of input while the children’s data were used in the analysis of language production. Parents completed questionnaires which were used to gather information on the children’s early development and their language background including the quantity of their Irish language input relative to their English (and/or other) language input.
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