Assessment of Language Development in Dual Language Learners: A Case Report - NAPNAP

Assessment of Language Development in Dual Language Learners: A Case Report

Assessment of Language Development in Dual Language Learners: A Case Report

A recent article published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care summarizes a case report to increase pediatric providers’ understanding on how best to evaluate language development in children who are exposed to two or more languages from birth, referred to as dual language leaners (DLLs), and aid in determining the possible need for a specialist referral. Closing this potential knowledge or training gap is vital to pediatric outcomes for these unique children.

With language diversity increasing in the United States, health care providers often face complex situations to provide the best care for DLL patients. Pediatric providers must navigate the complexity of assessing the language development of young patients while considering their status as a DLL.

“DLLs have the potential to add complexity to assessment of language development,” said article co-author Traci R. Snedden PhD, RN, CPNP, FNAP. “However, if pediatric providers use knowledge and current evidence to guide their practice in assessment and referral for DLL children, interventions for those with potential language delays may be initiated in a timelier manner.”

DLLs should not be assessed in the same way as monolinguals because most tools do not consider the DLL child’s full, diverse language achievements. When tested in one language, a DLL child may score substantially lower than a monolingual peer, resulting in an underassessment of their full capacities.

“Unfortunately, language delays in dual language learners (DLLs) are often not correctly identified. Many providers believe that DLLs with early delays will catch up to their peers without any intervention. However, without appropriate screening and referral, untreated speech and language delays can persist in children, placing them at higher risk for social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems into adulthood,” said Samantha Greuel, BSN, RN, CPN, article co-author. 

Pediatric providers must remember that in the case of language delays, dual language exposure is not the sole explanation. Children under three who might have suspected language delays can be referred for early intervention programs; older children might benefit from special education services. 

The article “­Assessment of Language Development in Dual Language Learners: A Case Report” was published in the November/December edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care and can be accessed here.

Dec. 5, 2023

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