275 – Influences on bilingual speech development: A longitudinal Vietnamese-English case study

Presentation - ECV2022-275

Influences on bilingual speech development: A longitudinal Vietnamese-English case study

Kate Margetson, Charles Sturt University, Australia (kmargetson@csu.edu.au)
Sharynne McLeod, Charles Sturt University, Australia (smcleod@csu.edu.au)
Sarah Verdon, Charles Sturt University, Australia (sverdon@csu.edu.au)

Background: Distinguishing typical from atypical speech development in multilingual children can be difficult for speech-language pathologists and early childhood educators. While multilingual children may present with what appear to be atypical ‘errors’ in their speech compared to monolingual children, the mismatches between their productions and target words may not be true ‘errors’, but rather the result of various influences on multilingual speech development.

Aim: To explore various influences on the speech development of an Australian Vietnamese-English speaking child over time.

Method: In this case study, an Australian Vietnamese-English speaking child completed the Vietnamese Speech Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology at 3 years 10 months (3;10), 5;1, 5;4, and 6;10. Her mother and brother completed the same assessments at the first time point. Speech assessments were transcribed by a team that included bilingual Vietnamese-English speakers.

Results: Analysis of her English speech alone at 3;10 indicated speech sound disorder. However, cross-linguistic and family contrastive analysis of her speech in both languages at 3;10 revealed that most mismatches could be explained by developmental, ambient phonology (family modelling), cross-linguistic transfer and dialectal variation. Over time speech accuracy improved and frequency of mismatches reduced.

Conclusions: Bilingual children’s speech development may be influenced by a variety of factors. Collaboration between early childhood educators and speech-language pathologists should ensure that children’s speech is assessed in all languages. Rather than automatically categorising mismatches as errors, influences on multilingual children’s speech should be considered as possible explanations for mismatches before diagnosis of speech sound disorder.

Implications for children and families: You will learn about the variety of influences on multilingual children’s speech development. 

Implications for practitioners: You will learn about typical multilingual speech acquisition, and identify the possible influences on multilingual children’s speech development.

Funding: This research was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP180102848. The first author received an Australian Government Research Training Program scholarship from Charles Sturt University. The authors report no other financial or non-financial conflicts of interest.

Key words: children’s voices, communication, education, health, international communities

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

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