Frequently Asked Questions

When do you book an interpreter?

When it is stated on the referral form that the family does not speak the language in common e.g. Welsh, English.

If you work in close contact to the referrer please ask them if an interpreter is required.

If there is no common language during the assessment session, and a full case history or assessment cannot take place, it is important to cancel the session and reschedule with an interpreter.  Always check the variety (dialect) of the language spoken at home.

If the child is school aged or above, it is important to ascertain a full language profile of all languages present. An interpreter will be required to conduct the assessment so that it is accurate and reliable.

Do you always assess the second language on first contact?

Yes.  This will somewhat depend on the experience and skills of the clinician.  With practice, and if an interpreter is present, assess both languages on the same day, following the principles set out in the interpreter section. 

If you cannot book an interpreter for a certain language what do you do?

Ask the parent/carer if they speak another dialect, and book an interpreter accordingly.  A case history will then be taken using that language.

Phone interpreting service and request that an interpreter is sub-contracted for the specific language.  Interpreting services do have this facility.

Do you always assess both languages in reviews?

Yes, it is important to re-assess all the languages used by the child in order to accurately review the progress made. 

Can I use formal assessments on a bilingual child?

Formal assessments standardised on a monolingual English speaking population cannot be used in the prescribed way for children with an additional language.  This is because the standardisation scores and age norms do not extend to a bi/multilingual population. 

You can use formal assessments to assess a child’s English.  This will give you a large amount of information about how the child is functioning in English and give a baseline for intervention.  NB: Results given should ONLY be given qualitatively.

It is inappropriate to translate an assessment in English into the child’s home language.  This is because form, content and use of grammatical structures of the languages will be different.  There are also potential cultural mismatches in test items.

How much intervention should each language receive?

Therapy should be offered in the language of choice after full discussion with client and carer.  According to RCSLT Communicating Quality 3(Page 269ff); ‘providing intervention in the individual’s mother tongue and support the family in their use of the mother tongue when necessary/appropriate i.e. when the individuals preferred/dominant language. Language should be discussed and agreed with families’.