Title: Language control and code-switching in bilingual children with developmental language disorder
Legend: Proportion of children in the Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) group and in the Typical Language (TLD) group exhibiting code-switching when interacting with an English-speaking and a Spanish-speaking adult partner. Children with DLD were more likely than children with TD to engage in code-switching, especially when interacting with a Spanish-speaking conversation partner.
Citation: Gross, M., & Kaushanskaya, M. (in press). Language control and code-switching in bilingual children with Developmental Language Disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Abstract: Purpose: The current study examined language control and code-switching in bilingual children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) compared to bilingual peers with typical language development (TLD). In addition, proficiency in each language and cognitive control skills were examined as predictors of children’s tendency to engage in cross-speaker and intra-sentential code-switching. Method: The participants were 62 Spanish/English bilingual children, ages 4;0-6;11, including 15 children with DLD and 47 children with TLD. In a scripted confederate dialogue task to measure language control, children took turns describing picture scenes with video partners who were monolingual speakers of English or Spanish. The Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS) indexed cognitive control, the Bilingual English Spanish Assessment (BESA) assisted in identifying DLD, and parent ratings from the Inventory to Assess Language Knowledge (ITALK) indexed proficiency in Spanish and English. Results: Children with DLD were more likely to engage in cross-speaker code-switching from Spanish to English (i.e., responding in English when addressed in Spanish) than children with TLD, even when controlling for proficiency in each language. Intra-sentential code-switching (i.e., integrating both languages within an utterance) did not differ between groups. Cognitive control was more associated with cross-speaker than with intra-sentential code-switching. Conclusion: These findings highlight the need to consider cross-speaker and intra-sentential code-switching separately when seeking distinguishing features of code-switching in bilingual children with DLD. The use of increased cross-speaker code-switching by children with DLD especially with Spanish speakers highlights the need for increased support of home language use.
About the Lab: Margarita Kaushanskaya is a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Research in her Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab (LAB) examines language and cognitive development in bilingual children with and without developmental disabilities.