About the Institute

The Bilingual Extension Institute is for practicing bilingual SLPs, or SLPs who work with bilingual and bidialectal students, who want to acquire the knowledge and skills consistent with current evidence-based practice.  

The over-referral of bilingual/bidialectal and multicultural children and adolescence 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 they do need. 

We speech-language pathologists evaluate bilingual/bidialectal and multicultural 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, or simply typical linguistic features in 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, clinicians cannot make informed decisions about the services needed by these children.

The Bilingual SLP Extension Institute at Teachers College Columbia University provides clinicians with the knowledge and skills to make these differential diagnoses and provide appropriate services. The Institute meets the requirements of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) bilingual extension certificate to the TSSLD, except for passing the NYSED BEA which is the language proficiency test. Additionally, the Institute meets the requirements for the advanced certificate diploma in bilingual SLP. 

The Bilingual Speech Language Pathology Extension Institute Teachers College, Columbia University

The task of the bilingual evaluator and treatment planner can seem overwhelming. The child’s speech community, sociolinguistic influences on the quality of the language samples elicited, and the quality of classroom instruction, are just a few of the factors that must be considered. Yet, of course, it can be done. Our program gives clinicians the knowledge and skills to determine just what is really going on with a bilingual, bidialectal, and multicultural student as well as how to deliver appropriate services.

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. Every weekend students learn through video case studies where they apply what they are learning to real children and adolescents. Additionally, the projects and assignments are designed to build deeper clinical skills and the ability to share the information from the Institute with their colleagues. 

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 as well as how to use evidence-based practice to identify whether the child/student has a true language disorder.  The third evaluation is of a language-impaired child/adolescent. By this point in the Institute, the students have acquired skills and know the research that they can then apply as they write up their evaluations according to the research ensuring that the evaluation is culturally and linguistically responsive and what that actually means in an evaluation.

Our clinician-students, often themselves bilingual and culturally diverse, are all too aware of the negative impact on their own cultural communities of biases in assessment and treatment. Their enthusiasm and appreciation as they learn more effective assessment and treatment methods is particularly gratifying. Indeed, a number of clinicians who already had their bilingual extension certificate from another university that focused on training bilingual education teachers, rather than content SLPs need to provide quality services. 

Students often develop networks with colleagues that continue for many years. They 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. Several are speech supervisors for their preschools and school districts in part because they bring this much-needed expertise. A number have presented their clinically-based research work from the Institute at NYSSLHA and ASHA. Several were inspired to enter doctoral programs and a number of former Institute students have gone on to complete their doctorates.

Since 1996 over 1000 SLPs  have completed the bilingual SLP extension to 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. The Institute is focused on providing speech language clinicians with the specific knowledge they need to provide quality services to bilingual, bidialectal and multicultural children and adolescents. It is only for SLPs.

The in-person Institute meets for six weekends over eight months, one weekend in May, June, September, October, November and December. The online Institute runs from May to mid-August and then September to early December. The faculty consists of seven speech-language pathologists and linguists with both research experience as well as all having considerable clinical expertise. The Institute fills quickly so send in your applications early.

For more information, contact bilingualslp@tc.columbia.edu.


Catherine J. Crowley, J.D., Ph.D., CCC-SLP
ASHA Fellow and Honors Recipient
Board Recognized Specialist in Child Language
Professor of Practice
Director of the Bilingual SLP Extension Institute
Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 West 120th Street, Box 180
New York, New York 10027

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