15 April 2011
GL Assessment has today published a new, fourth edition of a widely-used assessment for identifying speech and language delay and impairment in very young children. Designed for administration by speech and language therapists, the New Reynell Developmental Language Scales (NRDLS) has been revised, improved and newly standardised on more than 1,200 children aged 2 years to 7 years 5 months in the UK.
Sue Thompson, publisher at GL Assessment, explains: “The Reynell Scales have been widely used for many years by clinicians, educationalists and researchers as a means of gaining an overview of a child’s language ability, for guiding intervention and for evaluating effectiveness. We commissioned the NRDLS due to the popularity of the previous editions and as the need for early identification and intervention remains so strong. Not least, the Bercow Review suggests that 7% of children entering school in England ‘have significant difficulties with speech and/or language’ and that up to 50% of children in some socio-economically disadvantaged populations ‘have speech and language skills that are significantly lower than those of other children the same age’.”
As in the previous editions, there are two scales in the NRDLS: one explores aspects of a child’s understanding of selected vocabulary items and grammatical features (the Comprehension Scale); and the other examines the child’s production of the same features of language (the Production Scale). Parallel sections within the scales aid comparison of a child’s comprehension and production skills.
The revisions to the new edition have been based on recent research on child language acquisition and indicators of language impairment, together with user feedback. A full overview of the research is presented by the NRDLS authors, Professor Susan Edwards, Dr Carolyn Letts and Dr Indra Sinka, in the manual accompanying the assessment.
The play-based format has been retained with engaging stimulus material, including a trio of appealing characters (Monkey, Teddy and Rabbit) that children can ‘direct’ as they carry out the various tasks. Significantly, the amount of stimulus material has been reduced, making the assessment quicker and more straightforward to administer. The Comprehension Scale and the Production Scale have also been more closely aligned for easier comparison of the two skill sets.
Professor Susan Edwards explains, “The NRDLS provides an assessment of key features of language. A clinician can be confident that the standardisation was made on a large representative sample of UK children and that the features of language tested were selected on robust evidence. This is a test that will become increasingly important in the identification of children with communication needs.”
The Multilingual Toolkit
A further highlight of the new edition is The Multilingual Toolkit, an additional handbook that gives guidance on how to adapt and use NRDLS with children for whom English is an additional language (EAL).
As Dr Carolyn Letts explains, “While the NRDLS is standardised on UK children who have English as their first language or as one of their first languages, many children referred to SLTs have English as an additional language and a diversity of first languages. The identification and diagnosis of impairment in these cases is often difficult as characteristics the child shows when speaking English may be features of second language acquisition. This has, in turn, resulted in both under and over referral of such children to SLT services.”
The Multilingual Toolkit has been produced to help adapt the concepts and materials of NRDLS to situations where there is linguistic diversity. It illustrates the sorts of adaptations that could be made, uses examples to indicate what an individual child’s performance might mean for assessment and also offers advice on adapting instructions, taking account of cultural differences and taking account of differences in experience and language input across cultures and linguistic groups.
Author Dr Indra Sinka adds: "Despite the fact that in the UK we are a multilingual and multicultural society, we do not yet provide a sufficiently equitable service in all areas of the country to bi- or multi-lingual children. The Multilingual Toolkit acknowledges this and goes some way to encouraging best practice in order that access to services for such children is not denied."
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Danielle Morgan, Communications Manager, Granada Learning Group:
Tel: 020 8996 3632
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