An Investigation of Language Environment Analysis Measures for Spanish–English Bilingual Preschoolers From Migrant Low-Socioeconomic-Status Backgrounds Purpose The current study was designed to (a) describe average hourly Language Environment Analysis (LENA) data for preschool-age Spanish–English bilinguals (SEBs) and typically developing monolingual peers and (b) compare LENA data with mean length of utterance in words (MLUw) and total number of words (TNW) calculated on a selected ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2016
An Investigation of Language Environment Analysis Measures for Spanish–English Bilingual Preschoolers From Migrant Low-Socioeconomic-Status Backgrounds
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carla Wood
    Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Emily A. Diehm
    Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Maya F. Callender
    Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Carla Wood: carla.wood@cci.fsu.edu
  • Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Associate Editor: Mary Alt
    Associate Editor: Mary Alt×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2016
An Investigation of Language Environment Analysis Measures for Spanish–English Bilingual Preschoolers From Migrant Low-Socioeconomic-Status Backgrounds
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2016, Vol. 47, 123-134. doi:10.1044/2015_LSHSS-14-0115
History: Received December 14, 2014 , Revised June 3, 2015 , Accepted November 6, 2015
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2016, Vol. 47, 123-134. doi:10.1044/2015_LSHSS-14-0115
History: Received December 14, 2014; Revised June 3, 2015; Accepted November 6, 2015

Purpose The current study was designed to (a) describe average hourly Language Environment Analysis (LENA) data for preschool-age Spanish–English bilinguals (SEBs) and typically developing monolingual peers and (b) compare LENA data with mean length of utterance in words (MLUw) and total number of words (TNW) calculated on a selected sample of consecutive excerpts of audio files (CEAFs).

Method Investigators examined average hourly child vocalizations from daylong LENA samples for 42 SEBs and 39 monolingual English-speaking preschoolers. The relationship between average hourly child vocalizations, conversational turns, and adult words from the daylong samples and MLUw from a 50-utterance CEAF was examined and compared between groups.

Results MLUw, TNW, average hourly child vocalizations, and conversational turns were lower for young SEBs than monolingual English-speaking peers. Average hourly child vocalizations were not strongly related to MLUw performance for monolingual or SEB participants (r = .29, r = .25, respectively). In a similar manner, average hourly conversational turns were not strongly related to MLUw for either group (r = .22, r = .21, respectively).

Conclusions Young SEBs from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds showed lower average performance on LENA measures, MLUw, and TNW than monolingual English-speaking peers. MLUw from monolinguals were also lower than typical expectations when derived from CEAFs. LENA technology may be a promising tool for communication sampling with SEBs; however, more research is needed to establish norms for interpreting MLUw and TNW from selected CEAF samples.

Acknowledgments
Special gratitude to the Panhandle Area Education Consortium for Migrant Education for their assistance. The authors thank the research assistants and volunteers who assisted in data collection and analyses, including Melinda Donaldson, Jacyln Suveg, Brooke Ossi, Briana Pushaw, Jane Messier, Alisha Russel, and Nicole Sparapani.
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