This study aims to use a simple measure of verbal memory, a nonword repetition test, to identify 4 year olds at risk for language disorders. Preschoolers from inner-city and non-English speaking backgrounds are at risk for deficits in school readiness, particularly in the area of reading development, but it is difficult to identify which particular children experience this risk, especially in the context of economic deprivation and non-English speaking backgrounds. Nonword repetition tests, in which children are asked to repeat nonsense words of varying complexity (2-4 syllables) have been shown in a large body of research (e.g., Dollaghan & Campbell, 1998; Dispaldro, Leonard, & Deevy, 2013) to be reliable methods for identifying language learning problems in children. The present study uses a nonword repetition test designed to minimize the contribution of English language knowledge, to assess efficacy in identifying language learning difficulties in bilingual preschool children in low-income public preschools. Participants were administered nonword repetition tests by students who are fluent speakers of Spanish and Portuguese. Responses were audiorecorded and scored by trained raters blind to their language learning status. Percent correct scores for each child on the nonword repetition tests were computed, and differences in scores between the monolingual English speakers and the bilingual speakers were tested. Bilingual children showed no significant differences from monolingual English speakers on the nonword repetition test performance, suggesting that the tests are valid measures of their verbal memory capacity, and do not penalize bilingual children in obtaining this measure, which is known to predict success in learning to read.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/rhea_paul/91/