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Browsing by Author "Haatanen, Nina"

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  • Haatanen, Nina (2019)
    Aim. As the foreign-language speaking population grows in Finland, more and more children exposed to many languages are assessed by a speech therapist because their linguistic development causes a concern. Multilingualism is a growing phenomenon both internationally and in Finland. The assessment of a multilingual client poses a challenge to the speech therapist of how to assess a language that she or he is not familiar with. The aim of this study is to get information on how Finnish speech therapists assess their multilingual clients, especially their home languages. In addition, this study gathers information on how the speech therapists experienced the evaluation of a multilingual client. The purpose is to identify the types of assessment methods that Finnish speech therapists use to assess the linguistic skills of their multilingual clients and which assessment methods would be needed in their work. The profession of language analyst is presented to the speech therapists and they are also asked about their thoughts and opinions on the profession in question. Method. A survey was used as a method of this study. The survey was aimed for the speech therapists who were graduated and employed in Finland. The survey was sent to 1233 speech therapists by the e-mail list of the Finnish Association of Speech and Language therapists, and 132 speech therapists answered to it with a response rate of 10,7 %. In the questionnaire both closed and open questions were used, so the replies were analyzed in both quantitative and qualitative terms. In the quantitative analysis, the frequency and percentages of closed responses were calculated using the Microsoft Excel program. The qualitative analysis was carried out by gathering information from the open questions under different themes. Results and conclusions. According to the speech therapists, the assessment of a multilingual client is challenging. Nonetheless, most of the speech therapists who responded to the survey assessed all their clients’ languages. The result differs from the international study whereby speech therapists rarely assess the home languages of their clients. Assessment of the home language is important for the differential diagnosis. A language disorder cannot be reliably diagnosed based on a single language assessment. Finnish speech therapists mainly used the interview in the anamnesis phase and an interpreter when using assessment methods. Speech therapists were insecure when assessing a multilingual client, especially client's home language skills, but more confident when assessing the client's Finnish, Swedish or Sami skills. Nearly half of the speech therapists had challenges with interpreters, and most respondents would be interested in working with language analysts in the future.