Spanish Narrative Language Growth in Young Spanish-English Bilingual Children
Speech Pathology and Audiology
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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the Spanish narratives of 113 Spanish-English bilingual preschoolers over one academic year. The proportion of story grammar elements, episodic complexity, and high character development scores were evaluated at three different time points and across two different narrative models. Method: The current study examined data collected from a potential S-IDGI narrative retell subtest. Preschool children between the ages of 4 years and 6 years were asked to retell two narratives, one from a 4-picture narrative model and one from a 6-picture narrative model, at three time points (fall, winter, spring). Children who produced a narrative retell for both narrative models at all three time points in 100% Spanish were included in this study. There were a total of 113 participants that met the inclusion criteria. Children’s Spanish narratives were scored for proportion of story grammar elements (PSGE Index), episodic complexity (EC Index), and the highest character development. Three research assistants who were blinded to the purpose of the study scored 100% of the narratives for inter-rater reliability. Inter-rater reliability for proportion of story grammar elements, episodic complexity, and character development was 86% or better.Results: Overall, PSGE and EC Indices were statistically significant over time for both story models for all participants. The mean Character High Score was statistically significant over time for the 4-picture story model but not for the 6-picture story model. When comparing the results across different age groups, our findings revealed that the effect sizes varied across age groups, story models, and outcome measures with no consistent patterns. There were only clinically significant differences with medium to large effects between Group 3 (72 to 77 months) and Group 1 (60 to 65 months) on the PSGE and EC Indices for both story models. When comparing performance between different gender groups, our results consistently demonstrated no statistically significant difference between males and females across all story models, outcome measures, and time points. The results of this study found a significant correlation between Character High Score and PSGE Index for the 4-picture and 6-picture story model in the fall, winter, and spring.Conclusion: Our findings demonstrated that particular attention should be paid to the story model when collecting narrative language samples from SEB children. Children’s performance varied depending on the outcome measure examined. It appeared that SEB children performed better on the outcome measure elicited from the story model that more closely matched their language abilities. Children performed better on PSGE and EC Indices when provided with a story model that was less linguistically complex. However, the opposite was true for Character High Score, where children performed better when given models of higher character levels. Our findings revealed that PSGE Index was more sensitive than EC Index and Character High Score in distinguishing performance across different age groups for SEB preschool children. The skill of producing a complete episode (EC Index) is either absent or beginning to emerge in young SEB preschool children.