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Difficulties using standardized tests to identify the receptive expressive gap in bilingual children’s vocabularies

Difficulties using standardized tests to identify the receptive expressive gap in bilingual children’s vocabularies

Published in: Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Volume 21, Issue 2, 328-339

Abstract
“Receptive standardized vocabulary scores have been found to be much higher than expressive standardized vocabulary scores in children with Spanish as L1, learning L2 (English) in school (Gibson et al., 2012). Here we present evidence suggesting the receptive-expressive gap may be harder to evaluate than previously thought. We compared the performance of 116 six-year-old Spanish–English bilingual children in the US to 30 monolingual Spanish-speaking peers in Mexico across two Spanish-language standardized picture naming tests and one standardized picture pointing test. The performance of 134 monolingual English-speaking peers was compared using similar English-language tests. Results revealed the presence and magnitude of a receptive-expressive gap was largely dependent on the tests used. These discrepant results likely exist because widely-used standardized tests do not offer comparable normed scores. We review possible test norming practices that may have contributed to these results and suggest guidelines to determine a meaningful receptive-expressive gap for bilingual children.”

Written by: Todd A. Gibson, Linda Jarmulowicz, D. Kimbrough Oller
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728917000074

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