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6 Replies to “Automatically Assessing Bilingual Pre-Literacy Skills in Emergent Kindergarten Bilinguals with The BLAST App (Rocio Raña, Xuan-Nga Cao)”

  1. Rocio and Xuan-Nga: what an amazing presentation and tool for educators, families and researchers! I have been following the development of Blast for quite a while and I am very excited to see how much it has progressed, congratulations!

    I have a couple of questions:
    1. How long does it take to complete the assessment in each of the languages? And is it done in one ‘sitting’?
    2. Can children complete it on their own, or does it need much proctoring from an adult? (parent/proxy)
    3. I know schools are the main market for the app, but given the low number of (good) bilingual assessments for child HSs out there, have you considered collaborating with independent researchers who might be looking for interactive tools to assess the linguistic development of their participants?

    Thanks again for the great work! This linguist-nerd-mom of a soon-to-be 4 year old would love to have her child participate! 😉

    1. Hola Silvia,
      Thanks for your message. And all questions are great! Here are the answers:
      1. It takes approximately 20 minutes to complete the assessment in both languages. It’s done in one sitting. The assessment is bilingual, depending on the child’s answers it will start with one or the other language and adapt.
      2. Children can complete it on their own. It does not need proctoring. However an adult needs to sign in and start the assessment. After it starts, it’s the child all alone.
      3. Yes. We would love to collaborate with researchers!
      p.s. I would love to use it with your 4 year old. Let’s do it!

  2. Thank you for sharing your work Rocio and Xuan-Nga. Soon after the presentation I downloaded the app and was able to see some of the components. It’s nice!
    I had a couple of questions about the app:
    -Can the app be calibrated to different speech varieties? For example, how would it treat a child’s use of bulto over mochila?
    -Along those same lines, I am aware of two different common phonological assessments, PCC and PCC-R (for consonants), for most research examining bilingual phonological development. I was wondering if the speech recognition is calibrated in such a way that dialectal variants (assibilated trills vs. [r], mu”sh”o vs. mu(n)”ch”o) are not counted as errors?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment and thanks for looking for the app and downloading it. Do note that it is designed for iPads. It works on iPhone but the design gets a bit messed up.
      Your questions are great. Regarding your question of lexical variation across different dialects of Spanish, we tried to use terms that would be the same across many varieties. That said, we may need to make changes in the future based on responses. Our next goal is to conduct a large-scale pilot to see how much we can rely on some of the choices we made.
      Regarding your second question, “tweaking” the speech recognizer is a very sophisticated endeavor. We are at present using the device’s own speech recognizer, which works surprisingly better than expected. We are hoping NSF will fund our next step which involves doing exactly what you’re asking!

  3. Very fascinating tool with lots of possibilities

    #1 Concerning possibility of difficulties using the app, perhaps you could do a more controlled study/observation of the children using the app that you record in video and see how they do it and what things are difficult?

    #2 Have you thought of a later development for the app considering detecting language disorders?

  4. Hi Irene,
    Thanks for watching and your comments.
    Regarding #1, that’s a great idea! What we did before fully developing the app was use mockups to test user experience. So we did mockup assessments with 5 year olds and show them the screens and checked whether they touched and dragged and spoke.
    Regarding number 2, we would love to do that. Part of the inspiration for this work came from my experience with my kids and assumptions of language and cognitive disability with emergent bilinguals.

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