Semester of Graduation

Summer 2024


Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



Despite the growing population of Spanish-English bilingual speakers with developmental language disorders and speech sound disorders (SSD) in the United States, there is limited research on assessment for this population. Research suggests that the linguistic environment in which the Spanish-English bilingual speakers are brought up should be considered when assessing and treating this population since the Spanish-English bilingual population is diverse. One result of such environments is differences in degrees of language exposure. For example, a child can be exposed to two languages but have more exposure in one than the other. This might lead to better proficiency in one language compared to the other of the speaker’s languages. Although many Spanish-English bilingual children in the USA are dominant in English, there is limited research evidence to identify the distribution of errors across both languages. Examining errors across both languages is crucial because traditional theories propose that deficits in one language will likely manifest in the second language as well. However, this assumption may not hold true if there exists a substantial difference in levels of proficiency across two languages. The present study aims to investigate the pattern of errors in English and Spanish of an 8 years 2 months old bilingual speaker whose dominant language is English and was previously diagnosed with a speech sound disorder.

Methods: The assessment will consist of an oral mechanism exam, an in-depth questionnaire to quantify language exposure and use, unfamiliar listener rating of speech samples, and seven standardized assessments which measure speech sound abilities, language abilities, and cognitive abilities.

Results: The participant displayed higher performance in English across all measures, except for sentence-level articulation. Substantial differences between receptive and expressive language abilities were present in both languages but more pronounced in Spanish.

Conclusion: Findings align with the weaker links hypothesis, where less frequently used Spanish lexicon exhibits weakened semantic-phonological connections. The participant’s English dominance and greater exposure/usage likely strengthened English language networks relative to Spanish. This study highlights the need to assess bilingual children in both languages to uncover dominance effects and accurately identify the presence of a language disorder



Committee Chair

Gibson, Todd A.