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

  • TODD A. GIBSON (a1), LINDA JARMULOWICZ (a2) and D. KIMBROUGH OLLER (a2)

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.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Todd A. Gibson, Louisiana State University, 84 Hatcher Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA toddandrewgibson@lsu.edu

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*This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (R01 HD046947 to D. Kimbrough Oller, Principal Investigator, and R01 HD44923 to Claude Goldenberg, Principal Investigator)

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References

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Keywords

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

  • TODD A. GIBSON (a1), LINDA JARMULOWICZ (a2) and D. KIMBROUGH OLLER (a2)

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