Posted on 03/14/2019 at 11:34 AM by Blog Experts

The past couple of years working at Northwest AEA, I’ve received an increase in speech referrals for English Learner (EL) students. Despite the reason for the increase, it is my responsibility as a Speech Language Pathologist to determine if a student is eligible for speech services through Special Education. 

When I receive a referral for an EL student, I realize my work load will increase as there are additional steps needed to determine if 1) A disability is suspected, and 2) If the child is eligible for Special Education services. The most time-consuming aspect of an EL evaluation is to determine if a speech disorder is present in the student’s first language (L1). This is difficult because I only speak English! Of course, I cannot provide speech services to students who are demonstrating speech sound errors only in their second language (L2).

In the past, I put a lot of pressure on myself to determine whether a disability is present in the EL population. However, I’ve learned not to be an island! I am feeling more confident as I work through the RIOT framework, utilize a variety of resources to help make an informed decision, and access the wonderful information found in the Iowa Speech Language Pathologist English Language Learner Guidelines Manual (revised February 2012).

If you are responsible for conducting speech evaluations with the EL population, I strongly encourage you to look through this manual. It is organized into five sections addressing:

1. Enrollment of EL students

2. Legal responsibilities in educating EL students

3. Second language acquisition

4. Response to intervention

5. Resources:

- Use of interpreters (Appendix A page 45-48)

- Parent interview form (Appendix B page 49-51)

- R.I.O.T framework (Appendix D page 58-62)

Other helpful resources to complete an EL evaluation include:

Pearson’s Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation - Third Edition, Spanish

ASHA’s Spanish Phonemic Inventory

Biolinguistics’ Articulation errors and second-language learners

Remember, you are not an island! Use available resources to increase your competence and confidence completing EL evaluations.

By: Maureen Heilman, M.S., CCC-SLP

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