Redefining ‘Chinese’ L1 in SLP: Considerations for the assessment of Chinese bilingual/bidialectal language skills Academic Article uri icon


  • Language assessment of bilingual/bidialectal children can be complex. This is particularly true for speakers from China, who are likely to be bilingual and bidialectal at the same time. There has been, however, a lack of understanding of the diversity of Chinese languages as well as data on bidialectal children's L1 syntactic development and the development of L1 bidialectal children's L2 acquisition.This paper provides information on the complexity of the language system for people from China. It will present illustrative examples of the expressive language outputs of bilingual and bidialectal children from the perspective of bilingual, bidialectal linguists and speech-language pathologists. Then it will outline why appropriate assessment tools and practices for identification of language impairment in bilingual Chinese children need to be developed.Considerations include that Chinese bilingual children may differ in L2 performance because of lack of exposure in the target language or because of their varied L1 dialectal backgrounds, but not necessarily because of language impairment.When evaluating morphosyntactic performance of bilingual children, a series of reliable threshold indicators for possible language impairment is urgently needed for SLPs to facilitate accurate diagnosis of language impairment.

publication date

  • March 3, 2016