Sharon Armon-Lotem

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How can a teacher tell if a bilingual child has language impairment: A study of the language of Russian-Hebrew and Russian-German migrant children in preschool and school years.

 

GIF 1113/2010

 

2011-2014

 

 

PI1 Sharon Armon-Lotem, BIU

PI2 Natalia Gagarina, ZAS

PI3 Naama Friedman, TAU

PI4 Solveig Chilla, Erfurt Uni.

 

Coordinator Natalia Meir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both the PISA results and recent statistics on educational achievement of children with a migration background point to the fact that second language (L2) performance is a key skill to educational and economic integration. Kindergarten and school teachers can often tell that the language of a child is not what is expected for her age, but they are insecure about disentangling language impairment from an interlanguage of a typically developing L2 learner. This project aims to establish how we can tell, for children who demonstrate atypical patterns of L2 development, whether their problem results from the language tested not being their first language or from a Specific Language Impairment (SLI). We plan to analyze bilingual acquisition of Hebrew/German in the context of the same first language, Russian, testing morpho-syntactic knowledge, morpho-phonological processing and narrative abilities. Our subjects are early sequential bilinguals, preschool and school-age, i.e. children acquiring a second language in a naturalistic environment after they have been exposed to a single language, as is common for children of immigrants. Experimental findings for production, sentence repetition, non-word repetition and narrative retelling tasks which complement each other should make it possible to find separate characteristics for L2 and SLI, in order to develop clinical assessment tools on the one hand and support educational practice on the other. The choice to study these particular languages has practical implications for the societies in which the research teams work. This proposed study can be seen as a starting point for developing more effective language support programs in school as well as speech and language intervention strategies.