Bilingual Language Assessment in Early Intervention: A Comparison of Single- versus Dual-Language Testing

Caroline A. Larson, Sarah Chabal, Viorica Marian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Despite a growing number of bilingual children enrolled in Early Intervention language services, methods of administering language assessments to bilingual children are not standardized. This study reports clinically-meaningful differences in bilingual children’s receptive and expressive language outcomes when their language skills are assessed in the primary language versus in both the primary and secondary languages. Eleven Spanish-English speaking children (ages 1;11 to 2;11) with language delay enrolled in Early Intervention were assessed using The Rossetti Infant-Toddler Language Scale (Rossetti, 1990) in their primary language only, and then in both their primary and secondary languages. When assessed in only one language, bilingual children’s language skills were underestimated by 1.4 months for receptive language and 2.2 months for expressive language; language delay was overestimated by 4.7% for receptive language and by 7.8% for expressive language. Single-language assessments would lead to inappropriate Early Intervention referral for 3 of the 11 tested children. It is therefore suggested that assessing bilingual children in only one language leads to a significant underestimation of receptive and expressive language abilities and a significant overestimation of language delay. Consequently, the efficacy, reliability, and validity of the assessment are compromised and best practice as mandated by speechlanguage pathology certification organizations is not achieved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCurrent Issues in Language Evaluation, Assessment and Testing
Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Practice
EditorsChristina Gitsaki, Christine Coombe
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781443885904
StatePublished - 2016


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