Effectiveness of Language Experience and Proficiency Questionnaire (LEAP-Q) in Studying the Language Proficiency of Bilinguals

Effectivenessof Language Experience and Proficiency Questionnaire (LEAP-Q) inStudying the Language Proficiency of Bilinguals

Institutional

Abstract

Bilingualismand multilingualism in the current world are considered as a normrather than an exception due to increased linguistically diversepopulation. Such demographic changes have been reflected in growingrepresentation of multicultural and multilingual populations invarious parts of the world. This has been reflected by variousstudies. Therefore, the current study aimed at developing a valid andreliable questionnaire to enhance efficient assessment of thelinguistic profiles of the bilinguals. The Language Experience andProficiency Questionnaire (LEAP-Q) was developed within bilingualcontext. The results were presented in tables and graphs.

Basedon the research that was conducted, the results obtained were thatthe LEAP questionnaire was a valid and reliable tool in studyinglanguage proficiency among multilingual individuals. The results wereanalyzed using regression and correlation analysis, which indicatedthat self-reports are reliable tools that could be used in assessinglanguage proficiency among multilingual individuals. Through thestudy, the assessment of language proficiency using self-reportedproficiency in reading was a reliable predictor in Englishproficiency, while self-reported proficiency in speaking was areliable predictor in Spanish proficiency. Through the research, itwas also noted that self-reported proficiency was affected by theglobal measures and precise estimate of language performance requiredconsideration of various aspects in the history of the language. Theconclusion of the research was therefore that the LEAP questionnaireis a reliable, valid, and efficient tool that could be used inassessing language proficiency in multilingual populations.

Multilingualismand bilingualism have become a custom in the education field withinthe diverse linguistic populations in the United States. The changesin the demographic representation have brought about increasedchanges in the representation of these populations in research. Thisis because research in multilingual and bilinguals has yieldedinconsistent findings, which makes it hard for researchers to obtainthe right information about the subjects. The inconsistencies in thefindings have also been brought about by the non-uniformity in theinstruments that are used in the course of the research. Theresearchers find it difficult in obtaining information from thevarious subjects due to the inability of the subjects to speak alanguage that the researchers can identify with.

Theinaccuracy of the tools used in researching bilingualism has led tothe introduction of LEAP (Language, Experience, and proficiency)questionnaire as an effective tool that could be used in helping theresearchers to understand bilingualism and multilingualism. LEAPquestionnaire has been considered an effective tool inself-assessment of language that is valid, reliable, andcomprehensive in understanding bilingualism and multilingualism. Thispaper conducts findings on LEAP questionnaire as an effective tool inpredicting the relationships in the correlation between languageproficiencies across diverse populations.

Method

Thestudy was aimed at establishing the internal validity in the LEAPquestionnaire by creating an analysis of a diverse group of 139bilinguals using regression analysis and correlation analysis. Themultilingual individuals were chosen randomly from differentcountries where male were 56, Female 83, and were being tested inSpanish and English proficiency.

Inboth languages, the researchers were testing on languageunderstanding, reading, speaking, and the frequency on Englishexposure. The participants in the study were from US, Bolivia,Mexico, El Salvador, Spain, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Dominican Republic,Venezuela, Honduras, Canada, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Puerto Rico,Cuba, Ecuador, and Guatemala. The participants were then asked toself-report in their understanding, hearing, reading, and speakingproficiencies in both English and Spanish. The validity and thereliability of the LEAP questionnaire was then determined.

Aftercollection of the data, regression analysis of the data was made inorder to determine the relationship between ages immigrated and theproficiency among all the participants. The attributes on ageimmigrates were the independent variables while the self-report onlanguage proficiency in understanding, hearing, reading, and speakingproficiencies were the dependent variables. The Pearson values for R,p, and F and the regression coefficients were then determined increating the optimal prediction models for the research. Incorrelation, the figures were made significant at the 0.01 level in atwo-tail test. The results that were obtained from the analysis werethen analyzed to determine the reliability of using the LEAPquestionnaire and the self-reporting system as an effective tool inassessing bilingualism and multilingualism.

Results

EnglishProficiency

Thetest for English proficiency for both male and female is presented intable below

Accordingto the results, the English proficiency in men (56=N) was at a meanof 27.2857 with a standard deviation of 3.54049 and a standard errormean of 0.47312. The mean for the English proficiency in women (83=N)was 26.6205 with a standard deviation of 4.15741 and a standard errormean of 0.45634. In the Spanish proficiency, the mean for the samenumber of male was 26.6964 with a standard deviation of 5.50345 witha standard error mean of .73543 while the mean for the same number offemales was 28.3795 with a standard deviation of 3.77943 and astandard error mean of .41485.

Figure1:Spanish and English Proficiency

CorrelationAnalysis between Ages Immigrated and Language Proficiency

TheTable 1 below presents the results of correlation between age andlanguage proficiency.

Itcan be observed that the age immigrated is significantly correlatedto the language proficiency of the individual. From the table aboveon correlations, the 2-tailed correlation is significant at 0.01.This implies that the proficiency of language is highly affected bythe age immigrated. Therefore, a person who immigrated at a veryyoung age have high probability of being proficient is a certainlanguage than the one who is exposed to another language at old age.

Thetable above gives the results on descriptive statistics for thelanguage proficiency in English and Spanish. In this case, 56 malesand 83 females were proficient in English, with a mean of 27.2857 and26.6205 respectively. The standard deviation for English proficiencywas 3.5409 for males and 4.15741 for females, while the mean forstandard error was 0.47312 for males and 0.45634 for females.

Onthe other hand, for Spanish Proficiency, there were 56 males and 83females with a mean of 26.6964 and 28.3795 respectively. The standarddeviation for Spanish proficiency was 5.50345 for males and 3.77943for females, while the mean for standard error was 0.73543 for malesand 0.41485 for females.

InAPA,this can be represented as

ForEnglish Proficiency

Males(M = 27.2857, s =3.54049) and (M = 26.6205, s = 4.15741), t(137= 9.18, p= .328, α = .05)

ForSpanish Proficiency

Males(M = 26.6964, s =5.50345) and (M = 28.3795, s = 3.77943), t(137=2.139, p= .034, α = .05)

Thisis presented in the figure below.

Figure1: Descriptive Statistics

InferentialStatistics

Fromthe t-test analysis, it can be perceived that for Englishproficiency, the t-test for equality means at 95% confidence assumesequal variances as the p value is greater than 0.05. This is similarto the tests for Spanish proficiency. This implies that the LEAP-Q isefficient in analysis of bilingualism.

Countryof Birth

Theresults of the analysis based on the place birth are presented in thetable below.

Country of Birth

&nbsp

Country of Birth

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

Valid

Peru

14

10.1

10.2

10.2

&nbsp

Colombia

31

22.3

22.6

32.8

&nbsp

Argentina

15

10.8

10.9

43.8

&nbsp

Puerto Rico

11

7.9

8.0

51.8

&nbsp

Cuba

16

11.5

11.7

63.5

&nbsp

Dominican Republic

7

5.0

5.1

68.6

&nbsp

Nicaragua

8

5.8

5.8

74.5

&nbsp

Spain

2

1.4

1.5

75.9

&nbsp

Guatemala

5

3.6

3.6

79.6

&nbsp

Ecuador

7

5.0

5.1

84.7

&nbsp

Bolivia

1

.7

.7

85.4

&nbsp

Honduras

1

.7

.7

86.1

&nbsp

Mexico

8

5.8

5.8

92.0

&nbsp

El Salvador

1

.7

.7

92.7

&nbsp

Canada

1

.7

.7

93.4

&nbsp

US

1

.7

.7

94.2

&nbsp

Venezuela

8

5.8

5.8

100.0

Missing

Missing

2

1.4

&nbsp

&nbsp

Total

139

100.0

&nbsp

&nbsp

Basedon frequency and percentage, it can be seen that most of therespondents were from Colombia (N=31, 22.3% and 22.6 valid percent),this was followed by Cuba (N=16, 11.5% and 11.7 valid percent),Argentina (N=15, 10.8% and 10.9 valid percent), Peru (N=14, 10.1% and10.2 valid percent) through to Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador, Canadaand US each at (N=1, 0.7% and 0.7 valid percent).

Thisimplies that when analyzing the bilingualism, the country of birthcan be a major factor determining the level of language proficiency.There is a high probability that the place of birth will provide anexposure environment where a person can learn and understand alanguage in a better way.

Fromthe analysis, there was a strong correlation between the ageimmigrated and the level of proficiency. This is because thecorrelation coefficient obtained was statistically significant.Therefore, from this figure on country of birth, we can expect a highdegree of correlation between the country of birth and the level oflanguage proficiency. This meant that LEAP-Q elicits the descriptionson the mode of acquisition of the language to the extent of thecontribution in learning the languages.

Discussion

Themajor objective of the research that was conducted was to assessingthe effecting of the use of LEAP questionnaire in learning bilingualand multilingualism. The research was conducted using a regressionanalysis where the correlation between the various proficiencies onhearing, speaking, and understanding both English and Spanish wereobtained. The validity of the questionnaire was measured using thesame participants but a different language proficiency test. Theself-reported bilingual language proficiency was then determined inlight of objective measures of learning of the proficiency in bothEnglish and Spanish. Based on the results that were obtained, LEAPquestionnaire method is an effective, valid, reliable, and efficienttool that researchers should use when conducting their studies onbilingual and multilingualism (Marian,2007).

Whenexamining the validity of the LEAP questionnaire method as anefficient way in researching on bilingual and multilingualism, it wasfound that there was strong correlation between standardized measuresand self-reports on language proficiency. The test of varianceequality in the models in the independent variables against thedependent variables that were applied showed that English proficiencyscored 1.825 while Spanish proficiency scored 9.501. Through thetest, it was evident that the self-reported proficiency was areliable predictor in the behaviors of the participants both male andfemale. Through the results that have been made, a suggestion can bemade that if data from the questionnaire could be used inunderstanding language function, then reading and speakingproficiencies of a language could be used as indicators on thegeneral description of a language proficiency (Marian,2007).

Analysisof the results obtained in the study show that the specificity of thequestions set in the LEAP questionnaire show the similarity of thefactors that determine the construction of language in bilinguals andtheir respective proficiency in the particular language. Thedifferences in the equations in the various standardized measuresshow that the nature of the particular factors could largely beinfluenced by the characteristics of the particular population[ CITATION Dur11 l 1033 ].According to the results, strong correlation existed betweenself-reported and standardized measures on proficiency it ispossible to make an assertion that self-reportsare efficient and reliable indexes that could be used in assessinglanguage proficiency. The predictors of language performance on thetasks that had been standardized offered an initial step informulation of hypothesis on the relationship between self-reportingand the language proficiency among the 139 participants (Marian,2007).

Theresults obtained in the study indicate that self-reports are perfectindicators of the performance of an individual in terms of alanguage. However, a specific estimate of the performance in alanguage by an individual has been limited and could only beundertaken using diverse aspects in the history of the particularlanguage. The findings from the study have contributed to the largelycontested debate on the specific channels on language ability ascompared to the utility of the universal. Research that waspreviously conducted by (Bah rick, 2014) indicates that both measuresare important in helping on learning language proficiency. Throughthe LEAP questionnaire, it is possible to capture detailed predictorson language performance since it makes use of various languageproficiency methods since it is at times difficult to have directmeasures in behavior of a language user. As it stands, the LEAPquestionnaire method has been limited to analyzing self-report onlanguage proficiency on the basic language aspects such as speaking,hearing and comprehension. The next step that researchers should makeis on using the LEAP questionnaire in cross validating theself-report through the use of behavioral and cognitive behaviors ina diverse setting that includes memory performance, patterns ofmovement, and learning process. Such an improvement will be deemedimportant in making effective use of the LEAP questionnaire andgetting to understand the proficiency levels of different languages(Marian,2007).

Regardlessof the optimism that the LEAP questionnaire has brought in thelanguage proficiency studies, there are various questions that havenot been answered. The LEAP has showed its limitation in studyinglanguage proficiency in children with speech disorders and among thepopulace under certain medical conditions. It therefore becomesdifficult for a researcher to come up with a framework on conductinglanguage proficiency in a population with a considerable number ofpeople with such limitations. With the ineffectiveness of theprevious methods and the inefficiency in creating generalassumptions, it will be very hard to understand the languageperformance in such a population (Bahrick, 2014).

Conclusion

Inconclusion, the research conducted showing on the use of LEAPquestionnaire in learning language proficiencies in bilingual andmultilingualism settings. Based on the results that have beenobtained from the study, the LEAP questionnaire has been consideredan effective self-assessment tool in understanding languageproficiency. The tool is a research package that analyzesself-reported aspects, which are then used in understanding the levelof proficiency in language of the population under study. Through thelight that the tool has brought on the research studies on languageperformance, researchers are optimistic that the LEAP questionnairewill soon be able to cross validate the information attained and makeuse of cognitive and behavioral measures that would involve measuringmemory performance, movement patterns, and learning in ensuringreliable information has been attained.

References

Durgunoğlu, A. (2011). Language and Literacy Development in Bilingual Settings. New York: Guilford.

Marian,V., Blumenfeld, H. K., &amp Kaushanskaya, M. (2007). The LanguageExperience and Proficiency Questionnaire (LEAP-Q): Assessing languageprofiles in bilinguals and multilinguals. Journalof Speech, Language, and Hearing Research,50(4),940-967.