Foundations in Bilingual and Biliterate Learning and Development

presented by Laura Epstein & Betty Yu

Accreditation Check:

More than half of the world population is bilingual or multilingual. According to the U.S. Census (2010), approximately a quarter of the U.S. population over the age of five speaks a language other than English at home. Since 1980, the nation’s overall population grew by 34 percent while the percentage of speakers of non-English languages grew by 140 percent. In contrast, fewer than 5 percent of speech-language pathologists in the U.S. speak a language other than English. Children from minority-language backgrounds are disproportionately represented in Special Education and lack access to equitable services to support their needs. What do speech-language pathologists need to understand in order to better support the needs of the bilingual children that they serve? This course will provide an overview of the cognitive, developmental, and cultural foundations of typical bilingual and biliterate acquisition in children. This course is one of three courses on bilingualism. In the next two courses, issues related to assessment and children with communication disabilities are discussed.

Meet Your Instructor s

  • Laura Epstein, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

    Laura Epstein, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an Associate Professor, Program Coordinator and School Internship Coordinator at San Francisco State University. Her research and clinical focus is on Spanish-bilingual language development/disorders and inclusion. She was California Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention Program Co-Chair, 2014 & 2015, and Volunteer Committee Co-Chair in 2016. She was awarded the CSHA Diversity Award, 2011, and received the California Healthcare Foundation Leadership Fellowship, 2010.

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  • Betty Yu, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

    Betty Yu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education & Communicative Disorders. Before joining the faculty at San Francisco State, she practiced as a speech-language therapist primarily serving young children and their families in minority communities. Her research interest is in how children's language development interfaces with the development of sociocultural competence. Her current research focuses on the communication experiences of children with autism spectrum disorders and their families within bilingual contexts. She is a member of the Conversation Analysis Research in Autism (CARA) research group. She teaches courses related to language development, atypical language development, cultural and linguistic diversity, intervention in young children, and counseling in Communicative Disorders. The emphasis of her clinical instruction is on the provision of family-centered services to support communication development in children on the autism spectrum. She is the co-director of Project Common Ground, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education to prepare speech-language therapists to work effectively with diverse children on the autism spectrum.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. Bilingualism and Its Developmental Outcomes

    1. Bilingualism and Its Developmental Outcomes

    The purpose of the chapter is to introduce foundational concepts in bilingual development, including what is bilingualism; how it develops; the factors that influence development; and the unique linguistic and cognitive competencies associated with bilingualism.

  2. Bilingualism and Biliteracy

    2. Bilingualism and Biliteracy

    Children from minority-language backgrounds have literacy experiences as an integral part of their language development, but these literacy experiences are different from those of majority-language children. It is important to acknowledge the literacy experiences of minority-language children, while at the same time, building on these to support literacy skills in both languages.

  3. Heritage Language Maintenance

    3. Heritage Language Maintenance

    Families are at the center of bilingual and biliterate transmission, also called heritage language maintenance. Language and literacy co-develop through everyday family interactions. Bilingualism and biliteracy are unlikely to develop or develop fully without family involvement. In this chapter, we discuss family perspectives on bilingualism and biliteracy and how to work with families to support their own goals for their children.

  4. Q&A Session

    4. Q&A Session

    A question and answer session with the instructors and a student in her clinical fellowship year discussing what was covered in the course.