Language Assessment Tools for Inuktitut-Speaking Children

How can we best assess language development and delay in a morphosyntactically complex language like Inuktitut? Most Inuit children in northeastern Canada learn Inuktitut as their native language. However, there are few if any standardized and linguistically-informed tools available to assess their language development. Assessments from other languages can be adapted for use in Inuktitut, but these adaptations must take into account the salient structural features of Inuktitut: an extensive verbal and nominal inflection system, agglutinative morphology, frequent argument omission, and polysynthesis.

In this project, we are adapting three tools for Inuktitut language assessment:
1.   Mean Length of Utterance (MLU) to measure general language ability
2.   Language Assessment Remediation and Screening Procedure (LARSP) to measure (morpho)syntactic ability
3.   Macarthur Communicative Development Inventory (MCDI) to measure vocabulary level

Our collaborators are Catherine Dench, speech-language pathologist at Kativik Ilisarnilivik; Natacha Trudeau, professor of speech-language pathology at University of Montreal; Catherine Genest, student of speech-language pathology at University of Laval; and Mary Cain, Inuktitut Specialist at Kativik Ilisarnilivik.

Representative Publications
Allen, S.E.M., Cain, M., Dench, C., Genest, C., & Trudeau, N. (2017). Inuktitut adaptation of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory. Poster at 14th International Congress for the Study of Child Language, Lyon, France.
Allen, S.E.M. & Dench, C. (2015). Calculating mean length of utterance for Eastern Canadian Inuktitut. First Language, 35, 377-406.
Allen, S.E.M., Dench, C., & Isakson, K. (In press). InuLARSP: An adaptation of the Language Assessment Remediation and Screening Procedure for Inuktitut. In Ball, M.J., Crystal, D., & Fletcher, P. (Eds.), Assessing grammar: Even more languages of LARSP. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.