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Purpose: Concern exists about the cross-cultural appropriateness of existing language assessments for non-mainstream populations, including Indigenous children who may speak a non-standard dialect of the mainstream language. This study therefore aims to investigate the language skills of Indigenous Australian children in comparison with non-Indigenous children, with a view to exploring the cultural appropriateness of language sampling assessment methods. Method: The performance of 51 typically developing Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian children was compared on a standardised assessment and a spoken narrative protocol using language sample analysis measures. All children were in their first year of school and from the same regional city. Result: While the Indigenous children attained significantly lower receptive vocabulary scores than the non-Indigenous children, most language sampling measures from the spoken narrative protocol were similar across the two groups of children. Conclusion: Flexible, naturalistic language sampling approaches using a spoken narrative protocol are thus recommended for Indigenous children from the under-researched Australian context. However, normative data for language sampling are lacking, and further research is needed to explore the cultural validity of assessment and diagnostic procedures for Indigenous Australian children, as well as the influence of socioeconomic and family factors on language skills.


School of Allied Health

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Journal Article

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