Episode 4: Bilingual Benefits, Myths & Developmental Milestones with Dr. Brenda Gorman

You can listen to the interview with Dr. Brenda Gorman in Spanish by clicking on the player below:

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I interview Dr. Brenda Gorman, Associate Professor at the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Elmhurst College.  Prior to her role in academia, Dr. Gorman worked for eight years as a bilingual speech language pathologist.  Dr. Gorman also serves as the Advisory Clinical Director to Lingua Health sharing a wealth of experience in bilingual speech-language pathology. She completed her master’s and doctoral work in communication sciences and disorders with an emphasis in multicultural and bilingual issues at the University of Texas at Austin.

Episode #4 Quick Guide

On this episode, Dr. Gorman discusses with us:

  • Her background with languages which goes back to her college days;
  • Why she decided to become a speech language pathologist;
  • How languages are managed in her home including the obstacles they have faced along the way and how they have managed to overcome them as a family.
  •  The many benefits of bilingualism including:
    • Theory of mind, meaning the ability to know, comprehend and analyze what another person may be thinking from the other’s perspective;
    • Enhanced scientific problem solving;
    • Greater abilities when it comes to word learning even as adults;
    • Later onset of Alzheimer’s Disease:
    • Ability to interact with people from different backgrounds with ease;
    • Easier time with travel.
  •  Myths surrounding bilingualism including the perception that multilingual kids are at disadvantage in their language development and academic achievement;
  • Existing flaws in language assessment practices when evaluating multilingual children;
  • When to be consider language intervention and what to consider when working with a bilingual child.

We also spent some time discussing the specific language milestones that parents should expect to see at different stages.   Dr. Gorman stressed that these milestones should be seen by both monolingual and multilingual children. However, when it comes to counting words, all languages should be included.  In other words, if a child is exposed to both English and Spanish and says “cat” and “gato,” the child should get credit for speaking two words not just one.

Here is a table summarizing this section of the interview!

Age Range What You May Expect (Remember, these are just guidelines and every child is different)
0-3 Months
  • Cooing
  • Smiling
  • Using different sounds to get needs met
 4-6 Months
  • Turning the eyes in the direction of the parent when hearing their voice
  • Paying attention to music
  • Making gurgling sounds
  • Babbling
  • Laughing
7-11 Months
  • Variegated babbling – meaning more sounds with longer strings of noise when babbling
12 Months
  • First words (just a guideline, there is a window of time to consider!)
18 Months
  • Expressively communicating 4-6 words
  • Rely more on verbalization than pointing to meet needs
24 Months
  • 200-300 words (can be split between the child’s languages)
  • If not producing 50 words or more, parents may consider meeting with a Speech Language Pathologist
2 Years
  • Explosion of expressive language
  • Understanding far more than they are speaking
3 Years
  • Formulating short sentences
  • 75% of communication is intelligible
  • Still communicating with errors
4 Years
  • Communicating in full sentences
  • Some minor errors may still be present

Resource Dr. Gorman shared on the show:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

HELP US SPREAD THE WORD!

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