A preliminary report on the English phonology of typically developing English-Mandarin bilingual preschool Singaporean children
En, Lydea Gn Wei
Brebner, Christine Mary
McCormack, Paul Francis
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Background: There are no published data on typical phonological development for Singaporean children. There is therefore the risk that children's speech in Singapore may be misdiagnosed or that clinicians may set goals erroneously. Aims This paper reports a preliminary study on the English phonology of typically developing 4;0–4;5-year-old Chinese Singaporean children who speak English and Mandarin. Method & Procedures Seventy children were recruited throughout Singapore, and speech samples were collected in English using the Phonology Assessment of the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology (DEAP). The participants were divided equally into two groups: English-dominant and Mandarin-dominant. Their speech samples were compared with British English targets (BT) and Singapore English targets (ST) in terms of phonological accuracy and types of phonological processes used. Outcomes & Results The results showed that Singaporean children's phonological accuracy scores increased significantly when scored against ST instead of BT. When scored against ST, English-dominant children were found to perform similarly to their DEAP counterparts. However, Mandarin-dominant children had significantly less accurate consonant production in English and exhibited more interference effects from Mandarin phonology than English-dominant children. Conclusions & Implications In this preliminary study, the results highlight the importance of speech and language therapists using local dialect pronunciations to be the target of speech assessments so as to provide appropriate assessment and intervention. It is also essential to account for the language background and language dominance of the children. More local normative data are needed for the typical acquisition of Singapore English in children, especially for children whose dominant language is not English.