Julie E. Dockrell a1 a1 Psychology & Special Needs, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1A 0AL
This review outlines some of the difficulties involved in assessing
preschool children's language development. Language is a sensitive
indicator of a range of developmental difficulties yet the accurate
identification of children who are experiencing delays or disorders is
problematic. A range of different approaches are used to identify and
assess language problems including norm-referenced assessments,
questionnaires and language samples. Each of these is critically evaluated.
In particular the reliability and validity of the measures and their ability to
discriminate atypical patterns of development is considered. It is concluded
that there are no simple assessment tools that identify and assess language
development. Moreover, the use of single measures is considered
inadequate for determining whether a child at any age has typical or
delayed language. Ways to circumvent the limitations of the assessment
tools are considered.