A Let's Be Ready Community Classroom
A partnership between Let’s Be Ready and the University of Redlands in Southern California is seeking to address the problem of early detection of language-learning disabilities in Guatemalan preschool children. Barbara Conboy, Ph.D., professor of Communicative Disorders at Redlands, is leading a research project to establish a method of interviewing the parents of 3-year-old children in order to screen for slow language development and determine which children need a follow-up language evaluation. The oral interviews are being conducted in Spanish and/or Kaqchikel by Let’s Be Ready staff. In the case of children who are bilingual in Kaqchikel and Spanish, language skills in both languages are being measured via a questionnaire that was developed for Spanish-speaking children in Mexico.
The next step of the research project will be to determine with what accuracy these parental interviews, conducted before children’s 4th birthdays, identify children with specific language impairment. For that phase of the project, the results of the interviews will be compared with the results of a short storytelling task completed when the children are several months older. Dr. Conboy hopes that the questionnaires will allow all children enrolled in LBR preschool classes to be screened for language problems during the pre-registration process.
She adds, “I'm also hoping to expand my research to include story-retelling activities that take about 5 minutes to do. I think that this could be an excellent addition to the evaluations that Margarita has been doing, since children are not penalized for not knowing particular words that they have not been exposed to (as is what happens with formal tests that are normed on children in other countries, such as the Bracken). Instead, they can use their own words, Spanish, Kaqchikel, or both, and be scored on different elements of the stories. Even better, teachers can be trained to do this.”
Margarita in San Antoio
Betzabe interviewing a mother