Kathy-Ann Drayton: Assessing the Language Development of Young Trinidadian and Tobagonian Children

9.3.2011 klo 12-14 salissa P312


What language knowledge and skills do children in Trinidad and Tobago possess when they start school? How do they begin to negotiate the language learning environment in which English is the official language and the language needed to access the curriculum, while the first language of the majority of people is the lexically related Trinidadian English Creole (TEC)? Traditionally the speech-language assessments that have been used to answer these questions, have tended to focus on standardized instruments. However, these types of tests are not normed on the Trinidad and Tobago population, and do not take their language situation into account. This talk will focus on the use of Language Sample Analysis (LSA) in assessing the developing language of young Trinidadian and Tobagonian children. Elicited data from narrative tasks, as well as spontaneous data from naturally occurring situations, are used to examine the development of linguistic structures such as grammatical morphemes which are universally vulnerable in cases of language disorder. The form and use of these structures are often different in Trinidadian English (TE) and TEC,and children typically switch between the two codes in their utterances. While the switching between structures may appear random, they may in fact signal discursive elements that are important to the children’s language socialization.

Kathy-Ann Drayton is a Lecturer in Speech-Language Pathology and a PhD Candidate in Linguistics at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. She currently teaches undergraduate Speech-Language Pathology and Linguistics courses in the Department of Liberal Arts, while working on her dissertation on ”The Prosodic Structure of Trinidadian English Creole”. Her research interests include language development and language disorders in early childhood, and the language development of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.