Home and Community Language Proficiency in Spanish–English Early Bilingual University Students Purpose This study assessed home and community language proficiency in Spanish–English bilingual university students to investigate whether the vocabulary gap reported in studies of bilingual children persists into adulthood. Method Sixty-five early bilinguals (mean age = 21 years) were assessed in English and Spanish vocabulary and verbal reasoning ... Research Article
Newly Published
Research Article  |   September 14, 2017
Home and Community Language Proficiency in Spanish–English Early Bilingual University Students
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jens Schmidtke
    German Language Center, German-Jordanian University, Amman, Jordan
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Jens Schmidtke: schmi474@msu.edu
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird
    Associate Editor: Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Newly Published / Research Article
Research Article   |   September 14, 2017
Home and Community Language Proficiency in Spanish–English Early Bilingual University Students
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0341
History: Received August 29, 2016 , Revised January 4, 2017 , Accepted May 23, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0341
History: Received August 29, 2016; Revised January 4, 2017; Accepted May 23, 2017

Purpose This study assessed home and community language proficiency in Spanish–English bilingual university students to investigate whether the vocabulary gap reported in studies of bilingual children persists into adulthood.

Method Sixty-five early bilinguals (mean age = 21 years) were assessed in English and Spanish vocabulary and verbal reasoning ability using subtests of the Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey–Revised (Schrank & Woodcock, 2009). Their English scores were compared to 74 monolinguals matched in age and level of education. Participants also completed a background questionnaire.

Results Bilinguals scored below the monolingual control group on both subtests, and the difference was larger for vocabulary compared to verbal reasoning. However, bilinguals were close to the population mean for verbal reasoning. Spanish scores were on average lower than English scores, but participants differed widely in their degree of balance. Participants with an earlier age of acquisition of English and more current exposure to English tended to be more dominant in English.

Conclusions Vocabulary tests in the home or community language may underestimate bilingual university students' true verbal ability and should be interpreted with caution in high-stakes situations. Verbal reasoning ability may be more indicative of a bilingual's verbal ability.

Acknowledgments
This research was partially supported by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement grant (NSF-DDIG 1349125) awarded to Aline Godfroid and Jens Schmidtke. This article is a reanalysis of data from two previously published studies (Schmidtke, 2014, 2016).
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