Purpose

The authors examined the effects of conceptual scoring on the performance of simultaneous and sequential bilinguals on standardized receptive and expressive vocabulary measures in English and Spanish.

Method

Participants included 40 English-speaking monolingual children, 39 simultaneous Spanish–English bilingual children, and 19 sequential bilingual children, ages 5–7. The children completed standardized receptive and expressive vocabulary measures in English and also in Spanish for those who were bilingual. After the standardized administration, bilingual children were given the opportunity to respond to missed items in their other language to obtain a conceptual score.

Results

Controlling for group differences in socioeconomic status (SES), both simultaneous and sequential bilingual children scored significantly below monolingual children on single-language measures of English receptive and expressive vocabulary. Conceptual scoring removed the significant difference between monolingual and simultaneous bilingual children in the receptive modality but not in the expressive modality; differences remained between monolingual and sequential bilingual children in both modalities. However, in both bilingual groups, conceptual scoring increased the proportion of children with vocabulary scores within the average range.

Conclusion

Conceptual scoring does not fully ameliorate the bias inherent in single-language standardized vocabulary measures for bilingual children, but the procedures employed here may assist in ruling out vocabulary deficits, particularly in typically developing simultaneous bilingual children.

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