236 – Understanding bilingual children’s functional communication

Presentation - ECV2022-236

Understanding bilingual children’s functional communication

Leslie E. Kokotek, University of Cincinnati, USA (stokelle@ucmail.uc.edu)
Karla N. Washington, University of Toronto, ON, Canada (karla.washington@utoronto.ca)

Background: Client preferences constitute a requisite component of evidence-based practices; yet a dearth of research exists regarding stakeholder views about multilingual children’s language functioning. Research characterising functional communication from the client’s perspective enables culturally responsive practices that facilitate stakeholder partnerships for achieving outcomes and are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Aim: To characterise bilingual Jamaican children’s functional communication in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Method: Parents of 34 bilingual Jamaican pre-schoolers participated in 45-minute semi-structured interviews. The Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (FOCUS) (Thomas-Stonell et al., 2010), the Intelligibility in Context Scale (ICS) (McLeod et al., 2012a), the ICS-Jamaican Creole (ICS-JC) (McLeod et al., 2012b; Washington et al., 2017), and questions extended from the ICS and ICS-JC were employed to facilitate parent responses about different aspects of their child’s functional communication. Data were analysed using a systematic modified grounded theory approach.

  • Phase 1: Two independent raters read parent comments from each form to complete open coding processes and segmented parent comments into two-to-three-word descriptions.
  • Phase 2: Minor themes were categorised (per form) until saturation and team consensus were achieved, resulting in Major Themes for the FOCUS, ICS, ICS-JC, English Language Use, and JC Language Use.
  • Phase 3: Raters re-coded responses based on newly generated Major Themes.

Results: This investigation offered insights into stakeholder expectations about Jamaican children’s functional communication during a pandemic regarding: identifying barriers to infrastructure, education, and health and well-being.

Conclusions: Prioritising clients’ perspectives of functional communication promotes their active engagement in matters that concern them, reflecting a commitment to the SDGs. This approach is critical to guiding culturally responsive and evidence-based practices among speech-language pathologists and educators in ways that uphold the human right to communicate.

Implications for children: Using more than one language every day is an important part of being multilingual. It is important to speech-language pathologists and educators to understand if being online during the pandemic made it difficult to use both of your languages. There is so much that you can teach us about using both of your languages and we are eager to learn from you.

Implications for families: During the pandemic, families worked to support their children through online learning. By working together, we can document this experience and learn how to better support you now and in the future. 

Implications for practitioners: This study provides an approach for holistically analysing bilingual Jamaican children’s functional communication and supports parents as competent informants about their children’s linguistic experiences and access to remote services. You may find these results useful for enriching culturally responsive and sustainable services for your clients.

Funding: The first author of this study received an NIH diversity supplement award (3R21DC018170-02S1) that funded this research investigation, which was granted under the second author’s NIH R21 parent award (PI Washington, R21DC018170).

Key words: functional communication, community-based participatory research, multilingual, qualitative analysis, Jamaican Creole

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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