UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Professional support for bilingual language acquisition in children with developmental disabilities : a survey of speech-language pathologists in British Columbia, Canada Stahl, Hillary Eileen


In a multicultural country, bilingualism can benefit many children, and be a necessity for some. However, support for bilingualism is not always a priority for children with developmental disabilities. Recent research has at least partially contradicted the ‘common sense’ view that bilingualism is detrimental to or unrealistic for these children. This study surveyed 42 speech-language pathologists from British Columbia, Canada to determine the extent to which children with developmental disabilities are exposed to languages other than English in professional settings. Questions considered two language learning scenarios: English language learners (ELLs) and optional second language learners (e.g. French immersion students). The questions probed access to language programs in the education system, as well as the languages used for assessment and treatment. Results showed that the severity of diagnosis impacted inclusion in language programs, most notably for optional second language learners. However, severity did not appear to play a role in the language of assessment and treatment. The opinions of the SLPs also differed significantly from their practices, showing that they would like to see more access to bilingual services than is currently the case.

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