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calling Moondog - re:SLI and bilingualism

(19 Posts)
TotalChaos Thu 30-Jul-09 14:04:39

Apologies for picking your brain yet again -

I have a friend living in France with a young child with language disorder (I believe the family are French/English bilingual), who is coming up against professional beliefs that language disorders are due to psychological problems in the child. Idea being that her child's language will improve once his emotional state improves! She's particularly worried because she's read some recent French research suggesting that most bilingual kids with language delay/disorders have these language problems due to emotion/psychological difficultes in managing being bilingual.

Your views would be very much appreciated on this issue!

sc13 Thu 30-Jul-09 14:48:33

I'd be very curious to read this French research if your friend can dig it out. Tbh it sounds implausible - my first question would be, how can the study separate emotion/psychological difficulties due to just the language acquisition/being bilingual, from emotional/psychological difficulties due to the context of being bilingual (difficulty in adapting to the host culture? Suffering biases/discrimination?)
Having said that, I am convinced that emotional state and learning anything, including language, are related.
My DS's language disorder is part of his ASD, but his bilingualism is I think a huge source of satisfaction to him - or at least that's how I interpret the big grin on his face when he 'translates' bits of English into Italian for me smile

moondog Thu 30-Jul-09 17:27:36

My view?

Total shit.

What a disgrace that they are laying this on her. Who is it doing this? Bloody hell, the utter swines. angry

TotalChaos Thu 30-Jul-09 17:34:57

Well that's the sort of unequivocal view I was hoping for TBH, thanks Moondog! I think it's a local child psychologist her child has been referred to that's been telling her this.

BriocheDoree Thu 30-Jul-09 18:04:43

Total, is this SR on our emailing list? For some reason she never copies me in on her emails which is a bit daft when I'm probably one of the people who could help her the most - living in the same country and all.
It IS a prevalent attitude here but I've been much luckier than her in the people that I've been referred to!

moondog Thu 30-Jul-09 19:28:40

Christ alive!
Tell her to steer clear.
Psychologists are not the people to be advising on language issues.
She needs SALT advice from someone with extensive personal or professional experience of bilingulaism and SLI. Poor woman. She isn't actually believing any of this tripe is she??

TotalChaos Thu 30-Jul-09 19:36:32

Moondog - they do have SALT input too I believe, she doesn't believe it, but feels
very frustrated that this seems to be a prevalent view. don't think she has access to SALT experienced in bilingualism unfortunately.

Brioche - yes, that's right - don't worry, I did ask if I could post on here about it smile

moondog Thu 30-Jul-09 19:44:05

They might be better off without it altogether then. Is she a smart sort who can do her own research and put together some remedial wor for her? Or employ privately?

moondog Thu 30-Jul-09 19:44:53

Remind her over half the world is bilingual.It's the monoglots that are the odd ones out!

moondog Thu 30-Jul-09 19:47:05

I can't bear people who find wishy washy psychological reasons for problems. It's a convenient way of saying they can't help without actually helping. It puts the blame and the problem within the child.

As a behaviourist, I hold to the maxim
'If the pupil [or child] hasn't learnt, the teacher [or therapist] hasn't taught'.

TotalChaos Thu 30-Jul-09 19:48:45

yes, she's very smart, reading research herself, making her own visual aids etc smile

moondog Thu 30-Jul-09 20:14:38

Good for her.
Probably far more useful.
I'd be going for a visual/written daily calendar for starters and working very hard on reading with something like Headsprout.
Would also use.

I'd also recommend the fantastic and reasonably priced Fundecks from a great American company.

I have road tested them on own kids as well as lots of schools I work with and have 100% positive feedback.

moondog Thu 30-Jul-09 20:16:47

Some lovely free handouts on various issues on that site too.

mysonben Thu 30-Jul-09 22:48:21

On the matter of bilingualism, we live in uk , dh is english , i'm french, and to start with i was talking french to DS. I have stopped a few months ago because his language delay was so huge.
Didn't want to add more confusion to his struggle.
I also asked his paed. who said it was best for him to get to grip with english fisrt, then when things get better to try the french again.
Does it make a big difference with the language delay/disorder if we speak 2 lingos at home?


sc13 Fri 31-Jul-09 11:39:41


DS has a language delay of around 12 months for expressive language, and around 18 months for receptive language, as part of his ASD. At the point of dx his Italian was slightly better than his English, and he was doing code-switching rather well. The advice we got from both our SALT (the SALT who ran the Hanen course is bilingual) and the Ed Psych (who's fluent in Italian), is that we should keep doing what we're doing - dh speaks English, I speak Italian (we live in the UK). Tbh I would have continued speaking Italian to him even against advice. Maybe I'm taking a massive risk here, but I don't think bilingualism confuses him. If anything, I think bilingualism helps by increasing flexibility, which is crucial in children with ASD.
Now, I wish we were several years down the line to tell you how it all went...

moondog Fri 31-Jul-09 13:34:44

SC, you are doing the right thing.
Myson, paediatricians cangive you advice on medical matters but they know absolutely sod all about language and yuo have been given very poor advice indeed. As Istated earlier, most of the world is bilingual. Please please carry on speaking French with him-don't deny him this wonderful gift.If you do, you are creating additional difficulties-how will he converse with family and friends in France?

The assumption that you can introduce a language later rarely works. 99.9 % of the time, it is impossible to reform a relationship with someone close in a different language.It feels to weird.

Do NOT accept advice from GPs, HVs, psychologists and paediatricians on thsi matter, of which they know very little. You need to ask [demand] a SALT who has extensive experience with bilingualism.

I feel very sad and angry for you.

moondog Fri 31-Jul-09 13:36:38

I am a SALT, and have a child with a communication disorder myself.I wouldn't dream of restricting her access to one of the languages my family and friends speak. No way!

mysonben Fri 31-Jul-09 14:12:24

Thank you so much for that.
I was quite sad about not talking french to ds, (ds1 who is 16 speaks fluently both languages) and as all my family is in france and apart from my sister who can speak english quite well, nobody else does, so as you say it would have been very difficult for my mum, dad,...

I will give it another go. smile

BriocheDoree Fri 31-Jul-09 14:51:51

Mysonben, our circs are slightly different because DH and I are both English but live in France. However, DD goes full-time to French school. English school was financially not an option. Obv. English is far and away her best language (and she's refusing to speak ANY French during the hols) but if I didn't let her learn French, she wouldn't be able to speak to anyone outside her family. It does frustrate some of her teachers, but they are mainly the ones who don't understand about communication disorders anyway! (She went to English summer camp for a couple of days this holiday and was no more communicative in English than in French!!) She certainly understands some French, and can speak very basic phrases. She doesn't swap between the two with the facility displayed by my 2-year-old DS, but I still have every intention of bringing her up bilingual. I just won't ever expect her to "gabble away" in either!

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