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South African Journal of Communication Disorders

On-line version ISSN 2225-4765
Print version ISSN 0379-8046


MDLALO, Thandeka; FLACK, Penelope S.  and  JOUBERT, Robin W.. The cat on a hot tin roof? Critical considerations in multilingual language assessments. S. Afr. J. Commun. Disord. [online]. 2019, vol.66, n.1, pp.1-7. ISSN 2225-4765.

BACKGROUND: In speech-language pathology (SLP), there is a paucity of resources to provide just and equitable services to South Africa's culturally and linguistically diverse population. Although South Africa is a multilingual country, English remains the dominant language. However, there is limited research on resources for English additional language (EAL) speakers. OBJECTIVES: This article addresses this gap by presenting the results of a critique of a commonly used language screening tool, the Renfrew Action Picture Test (RAPT), on EAL speakers. METHOD: This tool is used as an example to broadly critique the use of culturally biased assessment instruments with EAL speakers from an indigenous linguistic and cultural background. It is administered to children who are EAL speakers and then critiqued by the children too. Their voice, often ignored in research, is central to the research. A mixed methods approach is used, including focus groups and test administration. This article is based on the results of the thematic analysis used to closely examine the patterns that emerge. RESULTS: A key finding is that the cultural and linguistic background of the child assessed cannot be disregarded, as it plays a crucial role in understanding the response of the child. The interpretation of the response of the child to the presented material of the language assessment tool significantly influences the result of the assessment. CONCLUSION: The speech language therapist has a responsibility to avoid skewed results based on uninformed interpretation of the response of the child. These findings provide useful insights for clinicians regarding culture-fair assessment.

Keywords : Assessment; cultural and linguistic diversity; English additional language speaker; language dominance; language competence; speech-language pathology.

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