Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #423
CE Offered: BACB
Effects of Home Language on Responding: Advances in Research With English Language Learners
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Regency Ballroom A, Hyatt Regency, Gold West
Area: EDC/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Casey J. Clay (University of Missouri)
Discussant: Javier Virues-Ortega (The University of Auckland)
CE Instructor: Casey Clay, M.S.

Determining what language we use with English Language Learners (ELLs) is an important research endeavor as findings have implications for inclusion in bilingual education programs, may influence academic achievement, and provide evidence for home language support. This symposium will include recent research on how language can influence responding. The first study presents a protocol for evaluating preference for a specific language in which praise is given. Specific language praise is then examined in a reinforcer assessment to determine reinforcing efficacy of praise in different languages. A second study examines the effect of listener language on the number of child initiations and mean length utterance (MLU). This study also replicates previous research examining the conditions under which children adjust their language to match the language of their listener. Predictive validity and utility of language proficiency assessments will be discussed. Effects of home language and English language usage for increasing responding and providing second language supports in educational settings will also be discussed.


Assessing Preference for Home Language or English Praise in English Language Learners With Disabilities

CASEY J. CLAY (University of Missouri), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), Timothy A. Slocum (Utah State University), Andrew L. Samaha (University of South Florida), Chase Callard (Utah State University)

Assessing preference for stimuli has been shown to be of value when determining potential reinforcers for individuals with disabilities. This study conceptualized different languages as different types of social stimuli. Assessing preference for languages may be of use to identify forms of social reinforcement that can be used with English Language Learners (ELLs) with disabilities. Five ELLs with disabilities between the ages of 10 and 17 years old participated in the study. We conducted a paired-stimulus preference assessment for specific language praise statements in English and Spanish to determine the language in which the participants preferred praise. Following the preference assessment, we conducted a concurrent-chains reinforcer assessment to determine reinforcing efficacy of praise in each language. We found two of five participants preferred Spanish praise to English praise. Three of five participants preference was undifferentiated between Spanish and English praise. All participants preference assessments predicted, to a degree, the results of their reinforcer assessments. From these results we concluded our paired stimulus preference assessment was effective for evaluating preference for different types of praise. Preference was also indicative of reinforcing efficacy of praise.

La Lengua del Oyente: Some Effects of Listener Language on Spanish-Speaking Preschoolers’ Verbal Behavior
Gerardo Castillo II (University of South Florida), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), Diego Valbuena (University of South Florida), CLAUDIA CAMPOS (University of South Florida), Sindy Sanchez (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Bilingual children represent a large population of preschool and school-aged children in the United States. Challenges may arise when the verbal community in which a child spends most of his or her time does not reinforce his or her primary language. Previous research has shown that children adjust their language to match the language of their listener (Genesee, Boivin, & Nicoladis, 1996). It is possible that having a native-language communication partner at school would improve child engagement, as measured by child mean length of utterance and quantity of child initiations. The purpose of this study was to examine whether listener language has an effect on number of child initiations and mean length of utterance (MLU). A secondary purpose is to replicate and extend previous research on children matching their language to that of their listener in Spanish-speaking preschoolers. Four preschoolers who were exposed to Spanish at home and English in their instructional setting were recruited. Their language proficiency was assessed with the preLAS and they were exposed to Spanish-speaking and English-speaking communication partners in a multielement design. Results suggest that the language of the listener had implications for amount of child initiations and MLU. This was not always predicted by the language proficiency assessment. Also, children were more likely to use their dominant language in the non-dominant language context than use the non-dominant language in the dominant language context. These results may have implications for best practices in educational settings for Spanish-speaking preschoolers.



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