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Multilingual Norms

Madalena Cruz-Ferreira

Multilinguals are not multiple monolinguals. Yet multilingual assessment proceeds through monolingual norms, as if fair conclusions were possible in the absence of fair comparison. In addition, multilingualism concerns what people do with language, not what languages do to people. Yet research focus remains on multilinguals’ languages, as if languages existed despite their users. This book redresses these paradoxes. Multilingual scholars, teachers and speech-language clinicians from Europe, Asia, Australia and the US contribute the first studies dedicated to multilingual norms, those found in real-life multilingual development, assessment and use. Readership includes educators, clinicians, decision-makers and researchers interested in multilingualism.

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Part 4. Language Assessment in Multilingual Contexts

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251 = Part 4 = Language Assessment in Multilingual Contexts _____________________________________________ Chapter 12 SLT practices in a multilingual context: the challenges of educational, social and language policies for children with language disorders in Singapore Joyce Lew and Alison Cannon Abstract Speech-language therapists (SLTs) practising in Singapore face challenges in language intervention that are fairly unique to the island-republic. The develop- ment of bilingualism/multilingualism in Singapore does not compare well with published descriptions of bilinguals, particularly descriptions of simultaneous and successive bilingualism in other English-speaking countries. These refer to children learning languages in relatively “neat” settings, such as Spanish at home and English at school, and in a society where the monolingual variety of a language is the norm. Acquiring English in Singapore in fact means learning two varieties of the language in a society that is multilingual and where lan- guage features of multilingualism such as interference and code-mixing are in- grained in day-to-day communication. Where children learn English at home, they learn a local variety of English that makes comparison with published de- velopmental norms of children from other English-speaking communities prob- lematic. This variety, commonly called Singlish, is officially repudiated and has therefore had very few developmental studies dedicated to it. In addition, the learning of English is strongly influenced by other official languages (Mandarin and Malay, in particular) and bilingualism policies that are atypical among other communities where English is widely spoken. This chapter aims to explore the challenges SLTs in Singapore face when assessing the language of Singaporean children...

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