Teacher Reports of Preschool Children's Communication in a Bilingual Setting


  • Janet L. Patterson University of New Mexico




bilingual, collaboration, preschool, teacher reports, speech-language, language pathology


Understanding teacher perspectives on communication can contribute to a more comprehensive characterization of children’s communication skills and can prepare SLPs for effective collaboration with teachers. In this study, teacher perspectives on young children’s communication were examined. Teachers of preschool children in a Head Start program serving a bilingual population described children’s language and communication in ethnographic interviews. The participants were two Latina teachers and the interviews focused on five Latino 4-year-old children with varied experience with Spanish and English. The major themes in the teacher interviews were the children’s personal characteristics and their participation in preschool activities. A third theme, bilingual and second language matters, was discussed by the teachers within the participation and personal characteristics framework. Implications of these themes for collaboration within a multidimensional framework are discussed.

Author Biography

Janet L. Patterson, University of New Mexico

Janet L. Patterson, PhD, CCC-SLP is an associate professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of New Mexico. She is also affiliated with the Department of Linguistics and the Educational Linguistics program in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies at UNM. Her previous publications include research on bilingual assessment, bilingual vocabulary development in young children, and bilingual parent report tools.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) (2010). Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists in Schools [Professional Issues Statement]. Available from www.asha.org/policy.

Bauer, K., Iyer, S., Boon, R. and Fore, C. (2010). 20 ways for classroom teachers to collaborate with speech-lanaauge pathologists. Intervention in School and Clinic, 45 (5): 333–337. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1053451208328833

Cabell, S., Justice, L., Zucker, T. and Kilday, C. (2009). Validity of teacher report for assessing the emergent literacy skills of at-risk preschoolers. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40: 161–173. http://dx.doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2009/07-0099)

Campbell, W. and Skarakis-Doyle, E. (2007). School-aged children with SLI: The ICF as a framework for collaborative service delivery. Journal of Communication Disorders, 40 (6): 513–535. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcomdis.2007.01.001

Coppola, J. (2005). English language learners: Language and literacy development during the preschool years. New England Reading Association Journal, 41: 18–23.

Crowe, L., Leiting, S. and Ogden, N. (1994). Inclusion plus collaborative teaming equals success in early childhood education. Paper presented at ASHA Annual Convention, November 1994, New Orleans, LA.

Dempsey, L. and Skarakis-Doyle, E. (2010). Developmental language impairment through the lens of the ICF: An integrated account of children’s functioning. Journal of Communication Disorders, 43 (5): 424–437. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcomdis.2010.05.004

Dickinson, D., McCabe, A. and Sprague, K. (2003). Teacher rating of oral language and literacy (TROLL): Individualizing early literacy instruction with a standards-based rating tool. The Reading Teacher, 56 (6): 554–564.

Duchan, J. (2004). Where is the person in the ICF? Advances in Speech-Language Pathology, 6 (1): 63–65. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14417040410001669444

Duchan, J. (2006). How conceptual frameworks influence clinical practice: Evidence from the writings of John Thelwall, a 19th century speech therapist. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 41 (6): 735–744. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13682820600570773

Ehren, B. and Nelson, N. (2005). The responsiveness to intervention approach and language impairment. Topics in Language Disorders, 25 (2): 120–131. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00011363-200504000-00005

Gilmore, J. and Vance, M. (2007). Teacher ratings of children’s listening difficulties. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 23 (2): 133–156. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0265659007073876

Gutierrez-Clellen, V. and Kreiter, J. (2003). Understanding child bilingual acquisition using parent and teacher reports. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24 (2): 267–288. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0142716403000158

Hadley, P., Simmerman, A. and Long, M. (2000). Facilitating language development for inner-city children: Experimental evaluation of a collaborative, classroom-based intervention. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 31 (3): 280–295.

Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. (2007). Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London: Routledge.

Hardin, B., Roach-Scott, M. and Peisner-Feinberg, E. (2007). Special education referral, evaluation, and placement practices for preschool English language learners. Journal of Research on Childhood Education, 22 (1): 39–54. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02568540709594611

Kaderavek, J. and Justice, L. (2004). Embedded-explicity literacy intervention II: Goal selection and implementation in the early childhood classroom. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 35 (3): 212–258. http://dx.doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2004/021)

Kohnert, K. (2008). Language Disorders in Bilingual Children and Adults. San Diego, CA: Plural.

McCabe, A. and Marshall, D. (2006). Measuring the social competence of preschool children with specific language impairment. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 26 (4): 234–246. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/02711214060260040401

McSheehan, M., Sonnemeier, R., Jorgensen, C. and Turner, K. (2006). Beyond communication access: Promoting learning of the general education curriculum by students with significant disabilities. Topics in Language Disorders, 26 (2): 266–290. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00011363-200607000-00008

Miles, M. and Huberman, M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (2005a). Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Criteria. Washington, DC: Author.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (2005b). Screening and Assessment of Young English-language Learners. Washington, DC: Author.

National Center for Education Statistics (2005). National Household Education Surveys: Early Childhood Program Participation 2005. http://nces.ed.gov/nhes/ (accessed 3 July 2011).

Nelson, N. (2010). Language and Literacy Disorders: Infancy Through Adolescence. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Patterson, J. (2005). Bilingual preschool communication ratings: Do you hear what I hear? American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Convention, November, San Diego, CA.

Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Paul, R. (2007). Language Disorders from Infancy Through Adolescence. St Louis, MI: Mosby.

Peña, E. and Quinn, R. (2003). Developing effective collaboration teams in speechlanguage pathology: A case study. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 24 (2): 53–63. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/15257401030240020201

QSR International (2006). NVivo7. Computer Software. www.qsrinternational.com.

Roth, F. and Troia, G. A. (2006). Collaborative efforts to promote emergent literacy and efficient word recognition skills. Topics in Language Disorders, 26 (1): 24–41. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00011363-200601000-00004

Tabors, P. (2008). One Child, Two Languages, 2nd edition. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

Threats, T. (2007). Access for persons with neurogenic communication disorders: Influences of personal and environmental factors of the ICF. Aphasiology, 21 (1): 67–80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02687030600798303

Threats, T. and Worral, L. (2004). Classifying communication disability using the ICF. Advances in Speech-Language Pathology, 6 (1): 53–62. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14417040410001669426

Throneburg, R., Calvert, L., Sturm, J., Paramboukas, A. and Paul, R. (2000). A comparison of service delivery models: Effects on curricular vocabulary skills in the school setting. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 9: 10–20.

Ukrainetz, T. and Fresquez, E. (2003). What isn’t language? A qualitative study of the role of the school speech-language pathologist. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 34: 284–298. http://dx.doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2003/024)

Westby, C. (1990). Asking the right questions to the right people in the right ways. Journal of Childhood Communication Disorders, 13 (1): 101–111. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/152574019001300111

Westby, C. (2007). Application of the ICF in children with language impairments. Seminars in Speech and Language, 28 (4): 265–272. http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-2007-986523

Williams, C. (2006). Teacher judgements of the language skills of children in the early years of schooling. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 22 (2): 135–154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1191/0265659006ct304oa

Zindler, R. (2009). Trouble in paradise: A study of who is included in an inclusion classroom. Teachers College Record , 111 (8): 1971–1996.

Ziv, Y. (2008). Characteristics of dual language learners and their families in Head Start. Presentation at 2008 Head Start National Research Conference, 25 June. Washington, DC.



How to Cite

Patterson, J. L. (2012). Teacher Reports of Preschool Children’s Communication in a Bilingual Setting. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 3(1), 71–90. https://doi.org/10.1558/jircd.v3i1.71