Dialectal grammatical differences in oral narratives of school-aged Indigenous Australian children

Pearce, Wendy, Williams, Cori, and Steed, William (2015) Dialectal grammatical differences in oral narratives of school-aged Indigenous Australian children. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 17 (4). pp. 335-345.

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Purpose: Children's oral language samples are regularly analysed in order to describe levels of language development and develop learning goals. However, diagnostic interpretation of language samples from Indigenous Australian children is problematic due to overlap between features of Aboriginal English and features of language impairment in the mainstream non-Indigenous population. Limited studies explore the use of Aboriginal English and its diagnostic impact. This research, therefore, describes the grammatical features of language samples from one group of Indigenous Australian children.

Method: Participants were 19 children aged 8;1-13;4 from the same school in a regional city with 100% Indigenous enrolment. The Test of Narrative Language was administered, eliciting three oral narratives, and features of Aboriginal English grammar were coded.

Result: Dialect density was highly variable and greater in the Verb Phrase than in the Noun Phrase or Clause Structure. High teacher ratings of oral language ability aligned with lower measures of dialect density and higher grammatical accuracy for Standard Australian English. Grammatical accuracy was frequently higher for Aboriginal English than Standard Australian English.

Conclusion: Over-identification of language impairment was identified as a risk when evaluating the language ability of Indigenous Australian children.

Item ID: 41889
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1754-9515
Keywords: assessment, school-age children, language
Funders: James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 13:39
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130207 LOTE, ESL and TESOL Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl Maori) @ 30%
13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education @ 30%
13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130302 Comparative and Cross-Cultural Education @ 40%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950202 Languages and Literacy @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930103 Learner Development @ 50%
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