Speech rate and perceived language ability in bilingual school-age children



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Clinicians and teachers may associate slow speech rate with low language ability during assessment in bilingual children. The goals of this thesis are a) to understand the relationship between speech rate and perceived language ability, and b) to understand the causes of within-utterance pauses and between-utterance pauses. English narratives for 116 Spanish–English bilingual 4–6-year-olds were analyzed for speech rate and pause time. Modifiability scores for each child were obtained. There was a low but significant correlation between speech rate and child responsivity. The distribution of between-utterance pauses was significantly different for children with high speech rates and children with low speech rates. An average of 56.5 wpm was found, confirming speech rates averages found in similar studies. These findings suggest that speech rate is one feature that SLPs attend to when considering the responsiveness of a child. Also, long between-utterance pauses can be used as an indicator of low speech rate.