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Bilingual Narrative Intervention (ISF 1716/19)

Bilingual narrative intervention in English-Hebrew and Russian-Hebrew preschool children with ‎developmental language disorder (DLD) and typical language development

ISF 1716/19

Carmit Altman & Joel Walters

Bilingual children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), unlike their peers with typical language development (TLD), do not always rely successfully on resources from both languages in narrative production due to low proficiency in both languages. Intervention in general, and narrative intervention in particular, for children with DLD, has received little attention until recently although intervention may be the best way to improve narrative skills. Despite the relatively large number of narrative intervention studies on monolingual children with DLD and a moderate number of studies on bilingual children with TLD, the literature on bilingual narrative intervention (BINARI) among children with DLD is still limited. Of three studies (Peterson et al. 2016; Thordardottir et al. 2015; Lugo-Neris et al. 2015), two reported research with Spanish-English bilinguals and one with diverse languages totaling fewer than 40 participants. All focused on one or two narrative features (story grammar elements, syntax and/or vocabulary) and only two studies involved intervention in both languages. Variation of intervention design and procedures across studies has prevented examination of the relative impact of each language and the cumulative impact of intervention in two languages. Finally, cross-linguistic transfer of skills and its impact on gains in narrative abilities has been suggested as facilitating, but has not been systematically studied. The proposed research aims to fill these gaps by examining a wider range of narrative features from both macrostructure and microstructure using BINARI for preschool children with DLD and TLD in both languages.

The main objective is to examine a wide range of narrative features in both languages of bilingual children with DLD and TLD before and after a multi-data point, pre-post BINARI design. Macrostructure features (story grammar elements and causal relations), microstructure features (vocabulary and complex syntax) and features which bridge macro- and microstructure (mental state terms and referential expressions) will be targeted. Systematic alternation of the language of intervention (home language and the school language) will allow investigation of transfer of narrative skills across languages bidirectionally, from both Home to School language and from School to Home language. It will also allow us to evaluate gains in each language separately as well as cumulative gains resulting from intervention in the two languages. We will also compare bilingual children with DLD and TLD from two bilingual groups (English-Hebrew and Russian-Hebrew) with distinct linguistic and sociolinguistic characteristics. Intervention context will be addressed by comparing group intervention (with benefit from teacher’s modeling as well as peer interaction) and individual intervention (where children receive intensive one-on-one attention), which we expect will contribute guidelines for ‘best practices’ to assist preschool teachers and policymakers.

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