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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01586

The contribution of bilingualism, parental education and school characteristics to performance on the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–Fourth Edition, Swedish

  • 1Lund University, Sweden
  • 2Malmö University, Sweden

Assessment of bilingual children in only one language fails to acknowledge their distributed linguistic competence and overidentifies language disorder in bilingual populations. However, other factors, sometimes associated with bilingualism, may also contribute to low results in language assessments. Our aim was to examine the impact of these factors on language abilities.

We used the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-Fourth Edition, Swedish (CELF-4) to investigate core language abilities of 224 7-8-year-old children. Results showed 30 and 80 percent of monolinguals and bilinguals, respectively, performing more than 1 standard deviation below the normative sample mean, calling into question the clinical utility of the test. However, participant and school characteristics provided a deeper understanding of the skewed results. In isolation, bilingualism predicted 38 percent of the variance in the CELF-4 Core scores. With level of parental education entered the variance explained by the model increased to 52 percent, but the unique contribution of bilingualism was reduced to 20 percent. Finally, with information on school characteristics and enrollment in the school’s recreation center added the model explained an additional two percent, with the unique contribution of bilingualism further reduced to 9 percent.

The results indicate an increased risk for low results on the CELF-4 Core when children present with multiple risk factors. This highlights the need to look beyond bilingualism in language assessment of bilingual children and adolescents, and to consider other explanations to academic struggle. Available interventions must be considered and applied proportionately to their respective impact on the individual’s development.

Keywords: Language assessment, bilingualism, Academic Achievement, Language exposure, Language disorder

Received: 09 May 2019; Accepted: 24 Jun 2019.

Edited by:

Cristina Cacciari, Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

Reviewed by:

Chloe Marshall, UCL Institute of Education, United Kingdom
Maria Andreou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece  

Copyright: © 2019 Andersson, Hansson, Rosqvist, Lyberg Åhlander, Sahlen and Sandgren. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Olof Sandgren, Lund University, Lund, 221 00, Skane County, Sweden, olof.sandgren@med.lu.se