Bilingualism and Children with Speech/Language Impairments: A Qualitative Study of Parents' Experiences



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Spanish-English bilingual parents are faced with the decision to select home and school language for their children. Parents often turn to clinicians and professionals for advice regarding language use and language development; this is particularly important for children who are receiving speech and language services. This study examines the advice received by Spanish-English bilingual parents of children ages eight through fourteen with and without language impairment, as well as the parent’s feelings towards their children’s current language use. Participants included 14 Spanish-speaking parents of typically developing (TD) children and 10 Spanish-speaking parents of children who are receiving/have received speech and language services. A qualitative approach with an online-questionnaire and a phone interview was used to conduct the study. Qualitative analysis was used to examine the outcomes by grouping commonalities expressed by parents into themes shared between participants. Findings suggest that parents in both groups received advice from speech-language pathologists (SLPs), teachers, doctors, and other family members/friends. A main theme regarding advice emerged: parents of children in both groups (TD and children who received/were receiving services) were often advised to continue bilingualism but in specific contexts (e.g., Spanish at home, English at school). Results indicate that Spanish-speaking parents in Houston view bilingualism as the ideal; however, their children tend to have a preference for English. Moreover, although parents in both groups are content with their children’s overall language development, they often wish their Spanish was stronger.



Bilingualism, Language impairment