How “Proficient” Is Proficient? Subjective Proficiency as a Predictor of Bilingual Listeners’ Recognition of English Words PurposeEnglish proficiency must be considered when a bilingual individual is to be evaluated clinically with English speech material. This study describes the minimum level of self-reported English proficiency that identifies bilingual individuals who may perform on par with monolingual listeners on an English word recognition test.MethodA total of 125 normal ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 2011
How “Proficient” Is Proficient? Subjective Proficiency as a Predictor of Bilingual Listeners’ Recognition of English Words
 
Author Notes
  • Correspondence to Lu-Feng Shi: lu.shi@liu.edu
  • Editor: Sheila Pratt
    Editor: Sheila Pratt×
  • Associate Editor: Jean-Pierre Gagne
    Associate Editor: Jean-Pierre Gagne×
  • © 2011 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity
Research Article   |   June 2011
How “Proficient” Is Proficient? Subjective Proficiency as a Predictor of Bilingual Listeners’ Recognition of English Words
American Journal of Audiology, June 2011, Vol. 20, 19-32. doi:10.1044/1059-0889(2011/10-0013)
History: Received March 19, 2010 , Revised July 1, 2010 , Accepted February 2, 2011
 
American Journal of Audiology, June 2011, Vol. 20, 19-32. doi:10.1044/1059-0889(2011/10-0013)
History: Received March 19, 2010; Revised July 1, 2010; Accepted February 2, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 10

PurposeEnglish proficiency must be considered when a bilingual individual is to be evaluated clinically with English speech material. This study describes the minimum level of self-reported English proficiency that identifies bilingual individuals who may perform on par with monolingual listeners on an English word recognition test.

MethodA total of 125 normal hearing bilingual listeners rated their English proficiency in listening, speaking, and reading on an 11-point scale. Other related linguistic variables were also obtained. A randomly selected Northwestern University Auditory Test No. 6 (NU-6) list (50 English monosyllabic words) was presented to all participants at 45 dB HL in quiet.

ResultsOver 90% of the listeners self-rated to have at least “good” proficiency in English listening, speaking, or reading. Of these participants, more than 30% did not achieve a monolingual normative level in English as delimited by binomial distribution. Composite proficiency ratings across language domains better predicted word recognition performance than self-ratings for listening proficiency only. Combining language dominance and age of English acquisition with proficiency ratings further improved prediction specificity.

ConclusionsSelf-rated English proficiency can predict bilingual listeners’ performance on the NU-6 test. For desirable sensitivity and specificity in predicting monolingual-like performance, a minimum rating of 8 out of 10 across all language domains is recommended.

Acknowledgments
I wish to thank the volunteers for participating in this study. I also thank Keren Zahavi for her helpful comments on an early version of this article.
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