The Application for the 2013 Bilingual Extension Institute is now available
Published: 2/6/2013 11:54:00 AM
The over-referral of bilingual and culturally diverse children to special education and related services is a pressing challenge in public school systems. Not only are unnecessary or inappropriate services a drain on resources, but they are harmful to the child, taking him or her away from the classroom and inevitably stigmatizing the child. In addition, an incorrect diagnosis may mean that the child does not receive the services he or she does need.
We speech-language pathologists evaluate bilingual and culturally diverse children who are having academic difficulties, We are "on the front lines" in making the crucial differential diagnosis between a disorder and something else. This "something else" could have a cultural basis, such as a mismatch between demands of school and home or linguistic factors, for example the normal process of second language acquisition. Add in cultural and linguistic biases in traditional assessment tools and methods and we can readily see the need for the clinician to a have a sophisticated and specialized knowledge base. Without this knowledge base, bilingual clinicians cannot make informed decisions about the services needed by these children.
The Bilingual Extension Institute at Teachers College Columbia University provides clinicians with the knowledge and skills to make these differential diagnoses and provide appropriate services. The bilingual extension certificate requirement of the State Education Department recognizes the need for special training. Any clinician who works with bilingual children and adolescents (ages 3-21) for IEP based-services must obtain this add-on to their Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities certificate. The Bilingual Extension Institute at Teachers College Columbia University fulfills all requirements of the bilingual extension, except for the NYSED BEA, the language proficiency test.
The Institute bridges the gap between research-based theoretical knowledge and everyday practice. This emphasis on training for practical application is reflected in everything from the use of practicing clinicians on the faculty to the project-based course content. Over the years a number of clinicians have re-done their bilingual extension through the Institute because once they started working they felt unprepared to provide appropriate bilingual speech-language services.
One illustration of our integration of theory and practice is the requirement of three bilingual speech-language evaluations. The students do two evaluations of typically developing bilingual children/adolescents to gain baseline knowledge-'"informed clinical opinion--of such children. As they make their conclusions about development, the students must cite the relevant research. The third evaluation is of a language-impaired child/adolescent. By this point, the students can analyze the psychometric parameters and the cultural and linguistic biases in testing tools. They also understand the impact of current and historical language and dialect use in the home and school on the child's language development. Another layer of analysis is the impact of sociolinguistics and socioeconomics on the quality and quantity of language elicited and the likelihood of academic success.
The resource manual project provides another way to connect the research with the student's clinical work. Students collect information about the non-English language they, themselves, speak. This includes information about phonological development, dialectal variants within the language, information on language development for both sequential and simultaneous bilinguals, sociolinguistic issues, analyses of the particular biases in commonly-used tests, and literacy development in bilingual/bidialectal children. The material becomes a resource to them in their clinical settings.
Through the Institute, students develop an expertise that they bring back to their practices and school setting. Towards the end of the Institute, students do in-service trainings at their schools on topics related to the provision of quality services to bilingual students.
Since 1996 over 500 clinicians have earned their bilingual extension to their NYSED TSSLD through the Institute. The students range from speakers of various dialects of Spanish, to speakers of various Asian Indian and Chinese languages, Haitian Creole, Russian, Korean, Arabic, Greek, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Yiddish, and Hebrew. Since the Institute began, a number of bilingual clinicians have traveled long distances from throughout New York State, and now it attracts students from across the country.
The Institute is focused on providing bilingual speech language clinicians with the specific knowledge they need to provide quality services to bilingual children and adolescents. To maintain this focus, professionals from other disciplines seeking their bilingual extension are not eligible for acceptance into the Bilingual Extension Institute.
The Institute fills quickly so send in your applications early.