Meeting a need for tools: Experiences from two international networks

Thematic Section: Creating language-assessment tools for North, South and in between 

language assessment, language impairment, cross-cultural, language acquisition, aphasia

Valantis Fyndanis, Cyprus University of Technology; University of Oslo
Ewa Haman, University of Warsaw
Magdalena Łuniewska, University of Warsaw
Hanne Gram Simonsen, University of Oslo

Multilingualism necessitates creation of language assessment tools incorporating all languages of a multilingual individual. This pertains to very different situations when assessment/diagnosis is needed: children being at risk for language disorder (e.g. struggling in everyday communication or in educational context) or persons with aphasia (PWA) (e.g. in need for a precise diagnosis and appropriate treatment).
Even though official recommendations (e.g. RCSLT, 2007; ASHA, 1999) clearly indicate the need of assessment in all languages, there is a scarcity of tools enabling such assessment. First, available tools were mostly designed for monolingual populations. Second, in many languages no assessment tools are available at all. Considering the enormous diversity of language combinations in multilinguals (e.g. in countries experiencing immigration), the need for “multilingual tools” is evident. The design of such tools involves following a common set of criteria and procedures that enable the parallel development of comparable language versions. This is the case regardless of whether a multilingual tool is developed “from scratch” or by adapting an existing “monolingual tool” into different languages. Multilingual tools enable not only assessment of multilinguals, but also comparisons between different “monolingual” speakers/populations (e.g. Greek-speaking PWA vs. German-speaking PWA).
Two examples of such multilingual tools for different populations (preschool children and PWA) will be presented. Cross-linguistic Lexical Tasks (CLT) were designed for multilingual children, within COST Action IS0804 (Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society/Bi-SLI). The tool is now available in 29 languages. The Comprehensive Aphasia Test (CAT), which targets PWA, was originally developed in English (Swinburn, Porter, & Howard, 2004). It has been or is currently being adapted into 21 languages, within COST Action IS1208 (Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists/CATs). We will focus on key linguistic and cultural challenges we encountered during the development/adaptation of CLT and CAT in(to) different languages and will describe the solutions we agreed on.