The population of the United States is seeing a dramatic increase in diversity while the growth in diversity of the speech-language pathology profession is not keeping pace. Most speech-language pathologists are monolingual while the population of English Language Learners in the United States is on the rise (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009). Recent census statistics estimate that 21% of the U.S. population of school-age children speak a language other than English at home and the population of English language learners is projected to continue growing (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). That is more than one out of every five students in the U.S! While the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and national universities are working to increase enrollment and the number of diverse professionals, a huge demand for bilingual service provision continues. This becomes problematic because issues of over- and under-identification are exacerbated by a lack of understanding about bilingual development and a shortage of bilingual speech-language pathologists.
Both linguistic and cultural knowledge are critical when working with families and children from different language backgrounds (Goldstein, 2012). Linguistic information is further divided into the sound system and the language system. All of these areas need to be taken into account when understanding whether the errors of an English language learner are normal errors or whether they are indicative of a language learning disorder.
Aspects of the language systems that help differentiate normal and atypical productions include word order, verb systems, and other morphological markers, among other things. When systems or structures differ across languages, English language learners often use the structure of their first language in English. For example, in English adjectives precede nouns (the blue chair) but in Spanish adjectives follow nouns (la silla azul). Thus, an English language learner whose native language is Spanish might say “the chair blue.”
Current bilingual service providers who have cultural competence for serving diverse populations can fill the gap as our professional groups continue to respond to staff shortages. Bilingual professionals can provide additional services such as after school and weekend evaluations, PRN work, adding clinical clients, contracting themselves out to districts and clinics, and even starting their own clinic or business to be able to write contracts and advertise effectively. This presentation highlights how bilingual service providers are rising to the challenge enabling more clients to be served and increasing their income simultaneously.
Participants will be able to:
List seven ways to use bilingual skill sets to serve more children.
Understand how to market bilingual speech-language services to increase earning capacity.
Discuss the current demographic shifts that have led to the need for more bilingual service provision.
5 minutes: Introduction
5 minutes: Current demographic trends in speech language pathology
10 minutes: Certifications and Language Learning
10 minutes: Part-time work and earnings enhancement
10 minutes: Contracting and the gig economy
15 minutes: Independent full-time opportunities
5 minutes: Conclusion