Monolingual or Bilingual Intervention for Primary Language Impairment? A Randomized Control Trial Purpose This study investigated the clinical effectiveness of monolingual versus bilingual language intervention, the latter involving speech-language pathologist–parent collaboration. The study focuses on methods that are currently being recommended and that are feasible within current clinical contexts. Method Bilingual children with primary language impairment who speak a minority ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 2015
Monolingual or Bilingual Intervention for Primary Language Impairment? A Randomized Control Trial
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Elin Thordardottir
    McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada
    Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en réadaptation du Montréal métropolitain (CRIR)
  • Geneviève Cloutier
    McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Suzanne Ménard
    Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, Laval, Québec, Canada
  • Elaine Pelland-Blais
    Montréal Children's Hospital, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Susan Rvachew
    McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Elin Thordardottir: elin.thordardottir@mcgill.ca
  • Geneviève Cloutier is now with Cause and Effect Early Intervention Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Suzanne Menard is now with McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Elaine Pelland-Blais is no longer with the Montréal Children's Hospital.
    Geneviève Cloutier is now with Cause and Effect Early Intervention Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Suzanne Menard is now with McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Elaine Pelland-Blais is no longer with the Montréal Children's Hospital.×
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Margarita Kaushanskaya
    Associate Editor: Margarita Kaushanskaya×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 2015
Monolingual or Bilingual Intervention for Primary Language Impairment? A Randomized Control Trial
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 287-300. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0277
History: Received October 9, 2013 , Revised March 25, 2014 , Accepted September 24, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 287-300. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0277
History: Received October 9, 2013; Revised March 25, 2014; Accepted September 24, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose This study investigated the clinical effectiveness of monolingual versus bilingual language intervention, the latter involving speech-language pathologist–parent collaboration. The study focuses on methods that are currently being recommended and that are feasible within current clinical contexts.

Method Bilingual children with primary language impairment who speak a minority language as their home language and French as their second (n = 29, mean age = 5 years) were randomly assigned to monolingual treatment, bilingual treatment, and no-treatment (delayed-treatment) conditions. Sixteen sessions of individual language intervention were offered, targeting vocabulary and syntactic skills in French only or bilingually, through parent collaboration during the clinical sessions. Language evaluations were conducted before and after treatment by blinded examiners; these evaluations targeted French as well as the home languages. An additional evaluation was conducted 2 months after completion of treatment to assess maintenance of gains. Both monolingual and bilingual treatment followed a focused stimulation approach.

Results Results in French showed a significant treatment effect for vocabulary but no difference between treatment conditions. Gains were made in syntax, but these gains could not be attributed to treatment given that treatment groups did not improve more than the control group. Home language probes did not suggest that the therapy had resulted in gains in the home language.

Conclusions The intervention used in this study is in line with current recommendations of major speech-language pathology organizations. However, the findings indicate that the bilingual treatment created through collaboration with parents was not effective in creating a sufficiently intense bilingual context to make it significantly different from the monolingual treatment. Further studies are needed to assess the gains associated with clinical modifications made for bilingual children and to search for effective ways to accommodate their unique needs.

Acknowledgments
This study was funded by a research grant from The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network (CLLRNet 27061801), awarded to Elin Thordardottir (PI) and to Susan Rvachew and Mela Sarkar (collaborators), with the Montréal Children's Hospital and the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital in Laval as partners. Thanks are extended also to the Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en réadaptation du Montréal métropolitain (CRIR) for supporting the project. We are grateful to the children and parents who participated in the project as well as to the SLPs in clinics and in the schools who helped recruit participants and coordinate intervention schedules.
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