Why do the professionals need to know the history of Alejandro’s language development

Marcus is a child development consultant in Smalltown, U.S., which is a friendly, predominantly middle-class community with a diverse ethnic makeup. Marcus’s job is to design behavioral interventions for children and adults. He works with a variety of people, including teachers, children of varying ages, and parents. He also works closely with professionals such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, physicians, and school administrators.

Referrals range from children with difficulty paying attention to adolescents exhibiting aggression. Marcus encounters a continuum of developmental issues, from children with typical development to clients with speech impairments, learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, and genetic syndromes.

Ms. Carter, a second grade teacher, has contacted Marcus because of a concern that a student might have some learning problems. The student is a 7-year-old boy named Alejandro, whose parents emigrated from Nicaragua. A meeting was arranged with the parents, teacher, consultant, and school psychologist because Alejandro was making errors in reading and having some comprehension problems. The psychologist and consultant asked questions such as: How long has the family lived in the United States? How long has Alejandro been exposed to English? Did he babble at the age of four months?

Based on your analysis of the scenario, respond to the following:

  • Why do the professionals need to know the history of Alejandro’s language development?
  • How might learning two languages affect Alejandro’s current learning?
  • What language milestones are of interest? Would Marcus have expected Alejandro to progress through the same language milestones as he was learning Spanish as a child who grew up learning English?

Review the following additional information on the case:

Alejandro’s parents indicated that he had only been exposed to English for one year and his early language development progressed normally. Ms. Carter reported that Alejandro typically uses speech such as, “I put table” or “I go bathroom” rather than “I put my paper on the table” or “May I go to the bathroom, please?” However, his parents reported that Alejandro’s Spanish seemed normal for his age and that he did not have difficulty in tasks not involving language, such as simple math.

Based on your analysis of this additional information, respond to the following, pulling on the research you are learning in your book and course readings:

  • What stage of speech is the teacher describing?
  • Given the history reported, should there be cause for concern regarding Alejandro’s speech or learning ability at this point?
  • Explain the interactionist perspective of language development and what advice would be given to Ms. Carter to help Alejandro from this perspective.

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