International Journal of

Arts , Humanities & Social Science

ISSN 2693-2547 (Print) , ISSN 2693-2555 (Online)
DOI: 10.56734/ijahss
Conceptual and Total Vocabulary in Spanish-English Bilinguals from 23 to 35 Months: Assessing Vocabulary Among Young, Migrant Emergent Bilingual Children


Migrant and seasonal agriculture workers, mostly of Latino origin, largely supply the labor that goes into crop production, cultivation, and harvest in the agricultural industry in the United States. A major challenge of this population is having stable childcare and access to quality education services for their children. Unfortunately, most assessments overlook the various aspects of emergent bilingual children’s development, leading to underestimation of their conceptual understandings and linguistic skills. This calls for a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to assessment. Three scoring methods have been identified as the most appropriate ways to score linguistic capabilities in bilingual children: single-language scoring, total scoring, and conceptual scoring (Bedore et al., 2005; Core et al., 2013). Each method presents advantages and disadvantages and is used according to the questions being asked. This longitudinal study aims to (1) compare total vocabulary and conceptual vocabulary in a group of two-year-old emergent bilingual children across time, (2) compare total and conceptual vocabulary with normed monolingual performance on a single-language measure across time using total and conceptual scoring methods, and (3) to determine which method of assessing vocabulary in two languages is most appropriate for two-year-old migrant bilingual children. Eight emergent bilingual children (50% female; Age: Time 1: M = 23.25 months, SD = 3.34) attending the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) or Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RMCA) were assessed using the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Developmental Inventory at three timepoints. Results showed that children’s total vocabulary scores were larger than their conceptual vocabulary scores and when comparing to monolingual norms their total scores were larger than their conceptual scores. Implications and recommendations will be discussed further.