Language ability groups in bilingual children: A latent profile analysis

Maria Kapantzoglou, Maria Restrepo, Shelley Gray, Marilyn Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose: Classifying children into two language ability groups, with and without language impairment, may underestimate the number of groups with distinct language ability patterns, or, alternatively, there may be only a single group characterized by a continuum of language performance. The purpose of the current study was to identify the number and characteristics of latent (unobservable) language ability groups in an unclassified sample of predominantly Spanish-speaking children. Method: An unclassified sample of 431 predominantly Spanish-speaking 5-to 7-year-olds learning English participated in the study. The groups were identified on thebasisof(a)languagesampleanalyses(semantic, grammatical, and sentence-length measures); (b) language processing tasks (phonological working memory and processing speed measures); and (c) nonverbal cognitive abilities assessed using a standardized measure. All tasks were administered in Spanish. Latent profile analysis was used to examine the number and nature of distinct language ability groups in the unclassified sample. Results: Results indicated that a three-group model best represented the data, characterized by low grammaticality in one group, low phonological working memory in another group, and average skills in a third group. Conclusion: Classifying children into two groups, those with and without language impairment, may lead to misidentification of language impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1549-1562
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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