Our SLP student chat tonight, Monday, October 28, 2002 is being hosted by
Kathryn Kohnert, Ph.D., who will address the topic of bilingualism/biculturalism
in speech-language pathology.
Dr. Kohnert is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication
Disorders at the University of Minnesota. She teaches courses in
language disorders across the lifespan in culturally and linguistically
diverse populations. Her research explores cognitive and linguistic
processing in bilingual children and adults with intact and impaired language
systems. In addition to her research, she has published clinical intervention
materials in both Spanish and English. Dr. Kohnert's primary focus is on
school-age children who are learning English as a second language.
<Robin> Thank you all for being here! We are chatting tonight with Kathryn Kohnert, Ph.D.,
about bilingualism/biculturalism in the world of speech-language pathology.
<Stephanie> Thank you. I am an ESL SLP.
<Stefne> Thank you Robin! I was hoping I was in the right place!
<mkaplan> Thanks, I'm glad to be here and to learn from Dr. Kohnert and all of you about
<mmundergrad> I have to say this topic came at a perfect time. I have a presentation on
bilingual assessment on Thursday to give.
<Robin> perfect timing!
<marialourido> I am in the same position except that the report isn't due for a couple
<mmundergrad> Well I have a two week extention on the report!
<KathrynKohnert> uh oh .......I'm starting to feel the pressure with so many presentations due
<Robin> Dr. Kohnert, please start off with some general info about this topic.
<mmundergrad> Can I ask my questions now?
<Robin> undergrad, lets start with some general info then we will open up the floor for questions.
<KathrynKohnert> Individuals who speak a language other than, or in addition to, English are the
fastest growing segment of the US population. It is likely that all SLPs will be called
on to provide services to linguistically diverse populations at some point.
<KathrynKohnert> As such, appropriate service delivery to linguistically diverse populations is
likely to remain one of the most important challenges to our profession in the coming
<KathrynKohnert> Do any of you have any immediate sense of what the biggest clinical challenges
to service delivery are?
<AdrienneFSU> no standardized tests
<marialourido> language difference or language disorder
<Michele> Dr Kohnert, I believe that lack of bilingual personnel is another.
<Robin> Mmundergrad, feel free to ask your question
<mmundergrad> dynamic assessment!!!!
<mmundergrad> I would like to know if you think it is effective or not and why?
<KathrynKohnert> I think you have hit on major issues. Dynamic assessment is one criterion-
referenced approach . . . and it is certainly helpful. But in and of itself it is not
<KathrynKohnert> Regarding lack of norms .......absolutely...... which is the reason for the
lack of standardized tests . . . .which supports the need for dynamic assessment .......
dynamic assessment is really a form of measuring a child's ability to learn
<Michele> How can dynamic assessment be molded to fit in with diverse cultures?
<KathrynKohnert> Lets go back to a couple of issues rasied earlier (and another one that has not)
so that we can again come around to the uses and limitations of dynamic assessment.
<Michele> I realize that dynamic assessment is holistic, but to expand upon my question, how can
it fit in practically to assess people of diverse cultures?
<mmundergrad> Because its testing their ability in an interactive sense not on just right or wrong.
<KathrynKohnert> Ion-referenced tasks, such as dyamic assessment, others are with ethnographic
interview etc. Each has strengths and limitations; data must be triangulated to separate
differences from disorders.
<Michele> Dr Kohnert, please explain data being "triangulated". I'm unfamiliar with that term.
<KathrynKohnert> As I use it here, it really just means looking for converging (or diverging)
evidence across assessment measures. That is, even though results of a single measure
are not sufficient to identify or rule out LI/LLD, results of several measures which
point in the same direction may. Similarly, if there are discrepancies in results
across measures, this may give us important information as well (strengths and
weaknesses; differences vs. disorders).
<KathrynKohnert> Dynamic assessment uses a Test-teach-retest method to determine the change in
performance based on limited intervention. We then have to compare the amount of change
against expectations (based on age of the child, linguistic and other experiences, etc.).
<Michele> Thanks Dr Kohnert.
<marialourido> I think that one way to assess a child from another culture is to observe that
child's pragmatic abilities in various settings. Is this true as a form of informal
evaluation for second language development?
<KathrynKohnert> Maria's comments about observations across settings is also a very important
piece of the puzzle.
<Michele> Using the test-teach-retest approach, would that mean also working closely with ESL
<KathrynKohnert> ESL personnel should always be considered an important resource and team member
in any evaluation for a child who is classified as ELL.
<Michele> Oh yes, what is ELL?
<ahagen> English Language Learners
<ahagen> the "pc" way to say ESL
<ahagen> you're welcome!
<KathrynKohnert> ELL ---- English language learner (current term used in schools for children
who speak a language other than English at home.
<Michele> Do these ELL children also include those who are bilingual?
<KathrynKohnert> ELL--bilingual----second language learners ------ very confusing and sometimes
used differently in different school districts.
<Michele> Has there been a compilation of all this terminology (ELL, ESL, etc). for the SLP?
<KathrynKohnert> Yes, there are several resources available. One Multicultural resource
guide for the SLP (which includes a complete glossary of terminology) is by
Goldstein, 2001 (published by Singluar/Thomson Learning). Other general textbooks by
D. Battle (I believe the 3rd or 4th edition of this text is now available); Langdon
& Cheng, 1992 and, specifically for working with Spanish-English bilinguals, Kayser,
<mmundergrad> What about parents as interpreters?
<mmundergrad> Do you think that hinders results?
<KathrynKohnert> Re parents as interpreters ...........only as last resort. There are many
experts that speak against this. One current resource is a text by Langdon & Cheng
(2002 published by Thinking Publications) regarding SLPs working with interpreters
<mmundergrad> thank you
<Michele> Yes, I agree with Dr Kohnert. Parents/caregivers may have certain biases detrimental
to the assessment
<marialourido> But, if that is the only way to get information due to a lack of Spanish speaking
SLP and interpreters, what do we do?
<mmundergrad> Right, but a hired interpreter might not be much better than the actual SLP giving
<mmundergrad> But if you are testing English proficiency how are you to go about performing the
assessment? Excuse the baffled undergrad!
<Michele> Are interpreters to be used for both assessment AND intervention?
<KathrynKohnert> Let me clarify best case scenario. For assessment, parents should not be used.
<KathrynKohnert> However, clearly "best case" is not always possible. There is also a difference
between assessment and intervention.
<marialourido> I think assessment is most important because a lot of kids are getting labeled
<KathrynKohnert> English language learners are both OVER and UNDER identified as LLD.
<KathrynKohnert> And I think the comments so far have highlighted a couple of issues as to why
this is so.
<KathrynKohnert> First, how to collect data is an issue.
<KathrynKohnert> Second, and even more importantly, how to interpret this data is NOT clear.
<mmundergrad> What characteristics would make a child with LLD and just LL (language learning)
<ahagen> I imagine it would be easy to label an ELL child as LLD.
<KathrynKohnert> To separate differences from disorders, we need to understand the very long
process of NORMAL second language acquisition by children, and the impact this process
can have on the first language.
<KathrynKohnert> Second, we need to collect data, from multiple sources in multiple ways.
<Michele> Dr Kohnert, please explain assessment and intervention differences with respect to
culturally diverse populations.
<KathrynKohnert> Michele--- could you ask a more specific question?
<Michele> Dr Kohnert, you mentioned that there was a difference between assessment and
intervention. Now how do we as SLPs do assessment or intervention, bearing in mind,
cultural diverse populations? (Sorry for this HUGE question)
<KathrynKohnert> Thanks for clarifying, Michele. When I said there was a difference, I was
referring to the use of interpreters.
<marialourido> Is there a way to assess bilingual children without using standardized tests
that will ensure a LDD. Are there any red flags?
<KathrynKohnert> For example, lets go back to how dynamic assessment might be used here.
<KathrynKohnert> If a teacher is concerned with one ELL in her class, is it possible to test
three other language learners in the same grade and compare performance across children
on a learning task?
<ahagen> So you could test 3 other kids?
<Michele> Great! This is a good start to answer my question on assessment.
<marialourido> That will give you information for normal language development in each grade.
<ahagen> But a sample size of only 4 kids is too small!
<ahagen> There could be tremendous differences in "normal" - it would be difficult to identify
a child as disordered.
<marialourido> It gives you a big picture.
<KathrynKohnert> Abby, we are talking about a criterion-referenced task using dynamic
assessment techniques as one piece of the puzzle. In terms of norm-referenced sample
sizes, you are absolutely correct that this number is too small. But as different
type of measure (criterion-referenced; measure of "learnability" comparing children
with similar experiences who are performing differently in the classroom) this can be
<KathrynKohnert> This is in fact very useful when you have a child who speaks Somali at home,
English at school and you have no recourse to standardize procedures.
<Stephanie> Dr. Kohnert, do you have any suggestions as to what type of research is needed in
terms of ESL speakers?
<KathrynKohnert> Stephanie -- regarding research with ESL (ELL) speakers, one critical piece is
more information about normal timeframes for children who begin learning a second
language at different ages (e.g., 3 vs 5 vs 7).
<marialourido> You would need to test three kids in the beginning and the three at the end of
the school year to obtain normal second language acquistion?
<KathrynKohnert> There is, for example, some evidence that suggests that the impact on L1 and
timeframes for L2 learning are quite variable.
<KathrynKohnert> Maria--- Actually the test-teach-retest can be done within a single session or
across only a day or two.
<marialourido> I don't think I understand the method.
<mmundergrad> But two weeks is recommended I believe.
<Stephanie> Do you mean what their level of language learning is like? (age arriving US vs
length of staying in the US)?
<KathrynKohnert> Stephanie --- Monolingual children at age 2 have approximately 300 words and
are using two-three word phrases.
<KathrynKohnert> If that same child begins attending preschool in a second language, what is
the impact of the second language on L1?
<KathrynKohnert> And, importantly, what is the process of L2 learning. I think these are
<marialourido> What is normal L2 acquistion?
<Michele> How about bilingual children, Dr, Kohnert?
<KathrynKohnert> Michele what do you mean by "bilingual"?
<KathrynKohnert> The most accepted definition of bilingual is functional knowledge or use of
more than one language.
<KathrynKohnert> Regardless of the time/age at which those languages were learned.
<marialourido> Is it true bilingual children have half of that vocabulary?
<KathrynKohnert> Maria NOOOOOOOOOOO not true. Sometimes, if we measure the child's skill
in only one language we may get the false impression that s/he has only "half" the
vocabulary. For many bilinguals, in order to get a true understanding of their
vocabulary, we need to look at both languages and use "composite" scoring
(e.g., Pearson et al, 1004; Kohnert, Hernandez & Bates, 1998; Pena, Bedore ..., 2002;
<ahagen> Do we know what the impact on L1 while learning L2?
<KathrynKohnert> Abby, we know a little bit (e.g., see Kohnert, Bates & Hernandez, 1999;
Kohnert & Bates, 2002; Kohnert 2002) but certainly not enough.
<Stephanie> Is single subject study significant in general?
<KathrynKohnert> Looking at the performance of individual learners over time can be
extremely informative. I am a strong advocate for looking at the same
"problem space/issues" via multiple methods: e.g., single subject and group design;
cross-sectional and longitudinal; experimental and qualitative/ethnographic.
<Michele> Bilingual proficient linguistic skills in both L1 & L2 (is this possible in the first
place? I'm sure it is).
<ahagen> Sure it is! Dr. Kohnert is bilingual!
<KathrynKohnert> Michele, your definition seems to fit the term "balanced bilingual" vs. bilingual
--- is it possible? rare.
<Michele> Right. I agree balanced bilinguals are rare, though I strive to be one (smile).
<Stephanie> I met several people who adopted children from different countries when their babies
are at different ages.
<Stephanie> I speak three languages, but I feel that I know some vocabulary better in one area
than the other. It depends on the experience you have.
<KathrynKohnert> Stephanie --- thank you. You just illustrated my point!
<Stephanie> I am glad that I can help. It was tough trying to be a proficient SLP in the US
speaking English as a 3rd language for me.
<Michele> Which languages do you speak, Stephanie? This is interesting.
<Stephanie> I speak Mandarin and Taiwanese.
<Michele> Thanks Stephanie. I speak Mandarin too though English is my first language.
<Stephanie> Thanks for sharing, Michele.
<Michele> You're welcome Stephanie.
<Michele> Dr Kohnert, may I ask which languages you speak?
<KathrynKohnert> My only other language is Spanish.
<marialourido> I am also Spanish
<mmundergrad> Me too but not bilingual.
<mmundergrad> Can I ask about bilingualism on the SLPs part? Is it to her advantage to be
bilingual even if the client does not speak the same language as the SLP?
<KathrynKohnert> I have often worked with families who speak Korean, Laotian, Urdu etc., even
though I don't.
<KathrynKohnert> I relied on clinical competencies such as the ability to work with interpreters,
familty members, etc.
<ahagen> Sounds like experience with these competencies helps?
<Michele> Clinical competencies? Do these include finding out as much about the culture of the
population you serve?
<mmundergrad> I meant say an SLP who is proficient in Spanish and has a child who speaks
Chinese on her caseload, does her bilingualism have any advantage there?
<mmundergrad> And do you see an advantage as opposed to someone who does not have any
<KathrynKohnert> I understand your question mmundergrad, the answer is just not straightforward.
For example, I have seen fluent bilingual SLPs who were not as culturally competent in
working with diverse clients as some monolingual SLPs.
<mmundergrad> I see.
<KathrynKohnert> And clearly I have seen the reverse as well. Clinical competency comes in all
sorts of professionals too.
<Stephanie> For me, being an ESL learner give me the advantage of understand the learning
process of LI children.
<KathrynKohnert> Cultural clinical competency first means REALLY knowing one's own cultural
perspectives and biases.
<KathrynKohnert> And absolutely the next step in that involves learning about the parameters
of the cultures of our clients.
<Michele> I see, Dr Kohnert. Acknowledgement of one's cultural identity is crucial.
<AdrienneFSU> Believe it or not, I think it's harder to figure out your identity when you are
an average middle class American... what food/celebrations/etc. are characteristic of
<marialourido> Average middle class Americans do have a culture.
<Adrienne> Yes maria, but somehow less glamorus, maybe just that less people take pride in
average American culture than people of other cultures do.
<marialourido> I would have to disagree. People take pride, it is just expressed differently.
<mmundergrad> I agree with that.
<KathrynKohnert> But I absolutely have to agree with Adrienne's last comment.
<ahagen> How do you become comfortable with each cultural/linguistic bias?
<Michele> I think Dr Kohnert's point to be culturally competent would apply to that.
<KathrynKohnert> Yes. In fact, we have an article in press in American Journal of Speech
Language Pathology (Kohnert, Kennedy, Glaze, Kahn & Carney) that illustrates the
challenges and competencies needed to work with a very broadly-based diverse
<Michele> Cultural sensitivity is also important.
<Michele> So isn't it important to broaden our horizons and find out about other cultures in
our demographically changing America?
<marialourido> Dr. Kohnert, do you give therapy in just English without interpreters?
<KathrynKohnert> The majority of my current and past intervention services were with
Spanish-English bilinguals, and since I am fluent in Spanish interpreters were not
<marialourido> Then, do you give therapy in Spanish and English?
<KathrynKohnert> It depends completely on the circumstances (e.g., client, disorder,
individuals capacities relative to the demands of his/her environment). Certainly
if a client is bilingual (and the functional use of both languages is needed in
his/her life) I always try to plan/implement intervention such that communication
in BOTH languages will be enhanced.
<marialourido> Dr.Kohnert, if a child has a language disability in both languages, do you
provide services in their first language?
<KathrynKohnert> Maria--that's a huge question, and it depends. Sometimes first language,
sometimes both languages, sometimes second.
<KathrynKohnert> You may want to look at Gutierrez-Clellen, 1999 (AJSLP) for more
information on language choice in intervention.
<ahagen> I'll play the devil's advocate...what if you work in a school and your caseload
has 10 or 15 different languages?
<KathrynKohnert> Abby, this is indeed very common in Minnesota. 80 languages in the Minneapolis
<ahagen> I know!
<ahagen> Dr. Kohnert, how about bilingual adults? (specifically the man who had tx at the U
in Spanish and English)
<ahagen> I wrote a paper on him.
<KathrynKohnert> Abby--- I am presenting a poster on bilingual aphasia at ASHA.
<ahagen> Will that information be available at school also or online or anywhere else?
<KathrynKohnert> If anyone wants a handout, I'd be happy to post it (and give it to you Abby).
<Stephanie> I plan to be at ASHA. Hope to see you at ASHA.
<Robin> We have been chatting for nearly an hour now.....Many thanks to Dr. Kohnert for
joining us tonight.
<Stephanie> Robin, will a copy of our chat be saved and available for viewing later?
<Robin> Yes Stephanie , we will edit the chat for typos, and let Dr. Kohnert review it...
then it will go in our on-line archive.
<Stephanie> Thank you. This is very interesting, and I hope to learn more about Dr. Kohnert's
<Stephanie> I am very interested in learning how I can contribute in terms of research with my
knowledge of 3 languages and different cultural backgrounds.
<KathrynKohnert> Stephanie---- WE NEED YOU! Please don't hesitate to contact me.
<Stephanie> Thank you very much, Dr. Kohnert.
<mmundergrad> Thank you for your help
<Stephanie> Thank you very much.
<KathrynKohnert> Stephanie --please look me up at ASHA.
<Stephanie> Sure. I will.
<Stephanie> Thank you.
<ahagen> Thanks Dr. Kohnert.
<Adrienne> Everyone had great questions too!
<Robin> Thank you all for coming...you all asked excellent questions.
<marialourido> Thank you sooo much. You have taught me a lot.
<KathrynKohnert> Maria-- my pleasure. This was very fun for me.
<Robin> What a wonderful group of students! Thank you for joining us!
<Robin> thanks again Dr. Kohnert.
<ahagen> Thanks again Dr. Kohnert. See you around!
<marialourido> Thanks again. Have a good night!
<KathrynKohnert> Have a good night, all.
<Stephanie> good night.
<ahagen> bye everyone
<Michele> I'll be in touch with you Dr Kohnert & Stephanie - thanks again. Have a good night!
<Robin> If any of you are going to ASHA, please stop by our booth (916) and say hi.
<Stephanie> It is nice to meet you here, Michelle and Dr. Kohnert. Thanks a lot again.
<Robin> good night!!!!!!!!!!!