Purpose

In this study, the authors examined the magnitude of the discrepancy between standardized measures of receptive and expressive semantic knowledge, known as a receptive–expressive gap, for bilingual children with and without primary language impairment (PLI).

Method

Spanish and English measures of semantic knowledge were administered to 37 Spanish–English bilingual 7- to 10-year old children with PLI and to 37 Spanish–English bilingual peers with typical development (TD). Parents and teachers completed questionnaires that yielded day-by-day and hour-by-hour information regarding children's exposure to and use of Spanish and English.

Results

Children with PLI had significantly larger discrepancies between receptive and expressive semantics standard scores than their bilingual peers with TD. The receptive–expressive gap for children with PLI was predicted by current English experience, whereas the best predictor for children with TD was cumulative English experience.

Conclusions

As a preliminary explanation, underspecified phonological representations due to bilingual children's divided language input as well as differences in their languages' phonological systems may result in a discrepancy between standardized measures of receptive and expressive semantic knowledge. This discrepancy is greater for bilingual children with PLI because of the additional difficulty these children have in processing phonetic information. Future research is required to understand these underlying processes.

References

  • Allen, M. J., & Yen, W. M. (1979). Introduction to measurement theory. Monterey, CA: Brooks.
  • Alt, M. (2011). Phonological working memory impairments in children with specific language impairment: Where does the problem lie?.Journal of Communication Disorders, 44, 173–185.
  • Alt, M., & Plante, E. (2006). Factors that influence lexical and semantic fast mapping of young children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49, 941–954.
  • American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders IV. (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.
  • Bates, E. (1993). Comprehension and production in early language development. Commentary on E. S. Savage-Rumbaugh, J. Murphy, R. A. Sevcik, K. E. Brakke, S. L. Williams, & D. M. Rumbaugh, “Language comprehension in ape and child.”.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 58(1, Serial No. 233).
  • Bates, E., Dale, P. S., & Thal, D. (1995). Individual differences and their implications for theories of language development.In P. Fletcher, & B. MacWhinney (Eds.), Handbook of child language (pp. 96–151). Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell.
  • Bedore, L. M., & Leonard, L. B. (2001). Grammatical morphology deficits in Spanish-speaking children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 44, 905–924.
  • Bedore, L. M., Peña, E. D., Summers, C. L., Boerger, K. M., Resendiz, M. D., Greene, K., & Gillam, R. B. (2012). The measure matters: Language dominance profiles across measures in Spanish–English bilingual children.Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15, 616–629.
  • Bialystok, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy, and cognition. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., Green, D. W., & Gollan, T. H. (2009). Bilingual minds.Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 10, 89–129.
  • Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., & Luk, G. (2012). Bilingualism: Consequences for mind and brain.Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16, 240–250.
  • Birren, J. E., Woods, A. M., & Williams, M. V. (1980). Behavioral slowing with age.In L. W. Poon (Ed.), Aging in the 1980s (pp. 293–308). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Bishop, D. V. M. (1997). Uncommon understanding: Development and disorders of language comprehension in children. Hove, England: Psychology Press.
  • Benedict, H. (1979). Early lexical development: Comprehension and production.Journal of Child Language, 6, 183–200.
  • Bybee, J. (2010). Language, usage and cognition. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • Chiat, S., & Roy, P. (2008). Early phonological and sociocognitive skills as predictors of later language and social communication outcomes.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 635–645.
  • Chomsky, N., & Halle, M. (1968). The sound pattern of English. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
  • De Bot, K. (1992). A bilingual's production model: Levelt's speaking model adapted.Applied Linguistics, 13, 1–24.
  • Dollaghan, C. (1987). Fast mapping in normal and language-impaired children.Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 52, 218–222.
  • Edwards, J., & Lahey, M. (1996). Auditory lexical decisions of children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 39, 1263–1273.
  • Ellis, N. (2002). Frequency effects in language processing.Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 24, 143–188.
  • Emmorey, K., Petrich, J. A., & Gollan, T. H. (2013). Bimodal bilingualism and the frequency-lag hypothesis.Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 18, 1–11.
  • Evans, J. L., Saffran, J. R., & Robe-Torres, K. (2009). Statistical learning in children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52, 321–335. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0189)
  • Fabiano-Smith, L., & Barlow, J. A. (2010). Interaction in bilingual phonological acquisition: Evidence from phonetic inventories.International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 13, 81–97.
  • Fabiano-Smith, L., & Goldstein, B. A. (2010). Phonological acquisition in bilingual Spanish–English speaking children.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 53, 160–178.
  • Fenson, L., Dale, P. S., Reznick, J. S., & Bates, E. (1994). Variability in early communicative development.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(5), 1–185.
  • Flege, J. E. (2003). Assessing constraints on second-language segmental production and perception.In A. Meyer, & N. Schiller (Eds.), Phonetics and phonology in language comprehension and production: Differences and similarities (pp. 319–355). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Frenck-Mestre, C., Meunier, C., Espesser, R., Daffner, K., & Holcomb, P. (2005). Perceiving nonnative vowels: The effect of context on perception as evidenced by event-related brain potentials.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48, 1–15.
  • Gaskell, M. G., & Marslen-Wilson, W. D. (1997). Integrating form and meaning: A distributed model of speech perception.Language and Cognitive Processes, 12, 613–656.
  • Gathercole, S., & Baddeley, A. (1993). Working memory and language. Hillsdale, NJ: Psychology Press.
  • Gathercole, S., Hitch, G., Service, E., & Martin, A. (1997). Phonological short-term memory and new word learning in children.Developmental Psychology, 33, 966–979.
  • Gibson, T. A., Oller, D. K., Jarmulowicz, L., & Ethington, C. A. (2012). The receptive–expressive gap in the vocabulary of young second-language learners: Robustness and possible mechanisms.Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15, 102–116.
  • Gibson, T. A., Peña, E. D., & Bedore, L. M. (2014). The relation between language experience and receptive–expressive semantic gaps in bilingual children.International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 17, 90–110.
  • Gillam, R., & Pearson, N. (2004). Test of narrative ability. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
  • Goldstein, B. A., Fabiano, L., & Washington, P. S. (2005). Phonological skills in predominantly English-speaking, predominantly Spanish-speaking, and Spanish–English bilingual children.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 36, 201–218.
  • Goldstein, B. A., & Iglesias, A. (1996). Phonological patterns in normally developing Spanish-speaking 3-and 4-year olds of Puerto Rican descent.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 27, 82–90.
  • Gollan, T. H., & Acenas, L. A. R. (2004). What is a TOT? Cognate and translation effects on tip-of-the-tongue states in Spanish–English and Tagalog–English bilinguals.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 30, 246.
  • Gollan, T. H., Montoya, R. I., & Bonanni, M. P. (2005). Proper names get stuck on bilingual and monolingual speakers' tip of the tongue equally often.Neuropsychology, 19, 278–287.
  • Gollan, T. H., Montoya, R. I., Cera, C., & Sandoval, T. C. (2008). More use almost always means a smaller frequency effect: Aging, bilingualism, and the weaker links hypothesis.Journal of Memory and Language, 58, 787–814.
  • Gollan, T. H., Montoya, R. I., Fennema-Notestine, C., & Morris, S. K. (2005). Bilingualism affects picture naming but not picture classification.Memory & Cognition, 33, 1220–1234.
  • Gollan, T. H., Montoya, R. I., & Werner, G. A. (2002). Semantic and letter fluency in Spanish–English bilinguals.Neuropsychology, 16, 562.
  • Gollan, T. H., & Silverberg, N. B. (2001). Tip-of-the-tongue states in Hebrew–English bilinguals.Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 4, 63–83.
  • Gollan, T. H., Slattery, T. J., Goldenberg, D., Van Assche, E., Duyck, W., & Rayner, K. (2011). Frequency drives lexical access in reading but not in speaking: The frequency-lag hypothesis.Journal of Experimental Psychology—General, 140, 186–209.
  • Gorman, B. K., & Gillam, R. B. (2003). Phonological awareness in Spanish: A tutorial for speech-language pathologists.Communication Disorders Quarterly, 25, 13–22.
  • Gray, S. (2003). Word-learning by preschoolers with specific language impairment: What predicts success?.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46, 56–67.
  • Gray, S., Plante, E., Vance, R., & Henrichsen, M. (1999). The diagnostic accuracy of four vocabulary tests administered to preschool-age children.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 30, 196–206.
  • Gutiérrez–Clellen, V. F., & Kreiter, J. (2003). Understanding child bilingual acquisition using parent and teacher reports.Applied Psycholinguistics, 24, 267–288.
  • Gutiérrez-Clellen, V. F., Restrepo, M. A., Bedore, L., Peña, E., & Anderson, R. (2000). Language sample analysis in Spanish-speaking children: Methodological considerations.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 31, 88–98.
  • Hammer, C. S., Lawrence, F. R., & Miccio, A. W. (2007). Bilingual children's language abilities and early reading outcomes in Head Start and kindergarten.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 38, 237–248.
  • Hammond, R. M. (2001). The sounds of Spanish: Analysis and application (with special reference to American English). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
  • Hollingshead, A. B. (1975). Four-factor index of social status. New Haven, CT: Department of Sociology, Yale University.
  • Hualde, J. I. (2005). The sounds of Spanish. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
  • Indefrey, P., & Levelt, W. J. M. (2004). The spatial and temporal signatures of word production components.Cognition, 92, 101–144.
  • Ivanova, I., & Costa, A. (2008). Does bilingualism hamper lexical access in speech production?.Acta Psychologica, 127, 277–288.
  • Kail, R. (1994). A method for studying the generalized slowing hypothesis in children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 37, 418–421.
  • Kan, P. F., & Kohnert, K. (2005). Preschoolers learning Hmong and English: Lexical-semantic skills in L1 and L2.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48, 372–383.
  • Kohnert, K., Bates, E., & Hernandez, A. (1999). Balancing bilinguals: Lexical-semantic production and cognitive processing in children learning Spanish and English.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 42, 1400–1413.
  • Lahey, M., & Edwards, J. (1996). Why do children with specific language impairment name pictures more slowly than their peers?.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 39, 1081–1098.
  • Lahey, M., & Edwards, J. (1999). Naming errors of children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 42, 195–205.
  • Leonard, L. B. (1989). Language learnability and specific language impairment in children.Applied Psycholinguistics, 10, 179–202.
  • Leonard, L. B. (1998). Specific language impairment in children. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
  • Leonard, L. B., & Bortolini, U. (1998). Grammatical morphology and the role of weak syllables in the speech of Italian-speaking children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41, 1363–1374.
  • Leonard, L. B., & Deevy, P. (2004). Lexical deficits in specific language impairment.In L. Verhoeven, & H. Balkhom (Eds.), Classification of developmental language disorders: Theoretical issues and clinical implications (pp. 209–233). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Leonard, L. B., Ellis Weismer, S., Miller, C. A., Francis, D. J., Tomblin, J. B., & Kail, R. V. (2007). Speed of processing, working memory, and language impairment in children.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 50, 408–428.
  • Leonard, L. B., Eyer, J. A., Bedore, L. M., & Grela, B. G. (1997). Three accounts of the grammatical morpheme difficulties of English-speaking children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 40, 741–753.
  • Leonard, L. B., McGregor, K. K., & Allen, G. D. (1992). Grammatical morphology and speech perception in children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 35, 1076–1085.
  • Leonard, L. B., & Weber-Fox, C. (2012). Specific language impairment: Processing deficits in linguistic, cognitive, and sensory domains.In M. Faust (Ed.), The handbook of the neuropsychology of language. Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Levelt, W. J. M., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (1999). Multiple perspectives on word production.Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 61–69.
  • Levelt, W. J. M., Schriefers, H., Vorberg, D., Meyer, A. S., Pechmann, T., & Havinga, J. (1991). The time course of lexical access in speech production: A study of picture naming.Psychological Review, 98, 122–142.
  • Linck, J. A., Kroll, J. F., & Sunderman, G. (2009). Losing access to the native language while immersed in a second language: Evidence for the role of inhibition in second-language learning.Psychological Science, 20, 1507–1515.
  • Liu, C., Tao, S., Wang, W., & Dong, Q. (2012). Formant discrimination of speech and non-speech sounds for English and Chinese listeners.The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 132, 189–195.
  • Martin-Rhee, M. M., & Bialystok, E. (2008). The development of two types of inhibitory control in monolingual and bilingual children.Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 11, 81–93.
  • McGregor, K. K., & Windsor, J. (1996). Effects of priming on the naming accuracy of preschoolers with word-finding deficits.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 39, 1048–1058.
  • Miccio, A. W., Tabors, P. O., Páez, M. M., Hammer, C. S., & Wagstaff, D. A. (2003, April). Vocabulary development of Spanish-speaking Head Start children of Puerto Rican descent. Paper presented at the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism, Tempe, AZ.
  • Miller, C., Kail, R., Leonard, L., & Tomblin, J. B. (2001). Speed of processing in children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 44, 416–433.
  • Millett, J., Atwill, K., Blanchard, J., & Gorin, J. (2008). The validity of receptive and expressive vocabulary measures with Spanish-speaking kindergarteners learning English.Reading Psychology, 29, 534–551.
  • Morales, J., Calvo, A., & Bialystok, E. (2012). Working memory development in monolingual and bilingual children.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 187–202.
  • Muñoz, M., & Marquardt, T. (2003). Picture naming and identification in bilingual speakers of Spanish and English with and without aphasia.Aphasiology, 17, 1115–1132.
  • Munson, B., Kurtz, B., & Windsor, J. (2005). The influence of vocabulary size, phonotactic probability, and wordlikeness on nonword repetitions of children with and without specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48, 1033–1047.
  • Nelson, K., Rescorla, L., Gruendel, J., & Benedict, H. (1978). Early lexicons: What do they mean?.Child Development, 49, 960–968.
  • Oetting, J. B., Rice, M. L., & Swank, L. K. (1995). Quick incidental learning (QUIL) of words by school-age children with and without SLI.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 38, 434–445.
  • Oller, D. K., & Eilers, R. E. (2002). Language and literacy in bilingual children (Vol. 2). Clevedon, United Kingdom: Multilingual Matters.
  • Oller, D. K., Pearson, B. Z., & Cobo-Lewis, A. B. (2007). Profile effects in early bilingual language and literacy.Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 191–230.
  • Paradis, J. (2007). Bilingual children with specific language impairment: Theoretical and applied issues.Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 551–564.
  • Peña, E., Bedore, L., & Fiestas, C. (2013). Development of bilingual semantic norms: Can two be one?.V. C. M. Gathercole (Ed.), Solutions for the assessment of bilinguals (pp. 103–124). Bristol, United Kingdom: Multilingual Matters.
  • Peña, E., Bedore, L., Gutiérrez-Clellen, V., Iglesias, A., & Goldstein, B. (2010). Bilingual English Spanish Assessment—Middle Extension (BESA–ME).
  • Peña, E. D., Gillam, R. B., Bedore, L. M., & Bohman, T. M. (2011). Risk for poor performance on a language screening measure for bilingual preschoolers and kindergarteners.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20, 302–314.
  • Peña, E., Gutiérrez-Clellen, V., Iglesias, A., Goldstein, B., & Bedore, L. (2014). Bilingual English Spanish Assessment (BESA). San Rafael, CA: AR-Clinical Publications.
  • Pierce, C. A., Block, R. A., & Aguinis, H. (2004). Cautionary note on reporting eta-squared values from multifactor ANOVA designs.Educational and Psychological Measurement, 64, 916–924.
  • Porter, J. H., & Hodson, B. W. (2001). Collaborating to obtain phonological acquisition data for local schools.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 32, 165–171.
  • Prior, A., & MacWhinney, B. (2010). A bilingual advantage in task switching.Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 13, 253–262.
  • Ransdell, S. E., & Fischler, I. (1987). Memory in a monolingual mode: When are bilinguals at a disadvantage?.Journal of Memory and Language, 26, 392–405.
  • Restrepo, M. A. (1998). Identifiers of predominantly Spanish-speaking children with language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41, 1398–1411.
  • Rice, M. L., Buhr, J. C., & Nemeth, M. (1990). Fast mapping word-learning abilities of language-delayed preschoolers.Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 55, 33–42.
  • Schwartz, R. (2009). The handbook of child language disorders. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
  • Sheng, L., Peña, E. D., Bedore, L. M., & Fiestas, C. E. (2012). Semantic deficits in Spanish–English bilingual children with language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 55, 1–15. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0254)
  • Shriberg, L. D., & Kent, R. D. (1982). Clinical phonetics. New York, NY: Wiley.
  • Smith, L., & Yu, C. (2008). Infants rapidly learn word-referent mappings via cross-situational statistics.Cognition, 106, 1558–1568.
  • Summers, C., Bohman, T. M., Gillam, R. B., Peña, E. D., & Bedore, L. M. (2010). Bilingual performance on nonword repetition in Spanish and English.International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 45, 480–493.
  • Sussman, J. E. (1993). Perception of formant transition cues to place of articulation in children with language impairments.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 36, 1286–1299.
  • Tomasello, M. (2003). Constructing a language: A usage-based approach to child language acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Tomblin, J. B., Records, N. L., Buckwalter, P., Zhang, X., Smith, E., & O'Brien, M. (1997). Prevalence of specific language impairment in kindergarten children.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 40, 1245–1260.
  • Waxman, S. R., & Markow, D. B. (1995). Words as invitations to form categories: Evidence from 12- to 13-month-old infants.Cognitive Psychology, 29, 257–302.
  • Wise, J. C., Sevcik, R. A., Morris, R. D., Lovett, M. W., & Wolf, M. (2007). The relationship among receptive and expressive vocabulary, listening comprehension, pre-reading skills, word identification skills, and reading comprehension by children with reading disabilities.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 50, 1093–1109.
  • Yan, S., & Nicoladis, E. (2009). Finding le mot juste: Differences between bilingual and monolingual children's lexical access in comprehension and production.Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 323–335.

Additional Resources