The purpose of bilingual speech therapy is to assist bilingual children with learning new speech sounds, developing accents and dialects, and establishing a smooth transition between the different languages being spoken.
Bilingual speech therapists can work in a variety of settings with children from diverse backgrounds and ethnic groups. This type of speech therapy can be extremely beneficial for children that are nearing school age and beyond.
What is Bilingual Speech Therapy?
There are currently many different methods for improving the speech of children within the U.S. Children that utilize bilingual communication methods may struggle with word development within 2 different language sets, marking the need for more intense speech interventions and more experienced speech therapists in the field.
Therapists that have received training in this specialized areas can work to assess the needs of their clients and determine what type of difficulties are being experienced between the development of both languages. The most common bilingual children and adults within the U.S. speak both English and Spanish, making therapies within these areas a popular choice for upcoming students.
Online Bilingual Speech Therapy Degree Programs
The society that you live in is highly influenced by technology and its many uses. In recent years, technology has been heavily integrated into the field of education, changing the way that people attend college and earn their degrees.
If you have an interest in speech pathology and would like to become a certified bilingual speech therapist, you can find online degree programs to help get you started. Online degree programs are often offered by traditional institutions with both traditional and online options, making your journey to the right program a little shorter than you might think.
In some institutions, students can choose to blend both traditional and online programs into a hybrid degree program. Your schedule and your ability to attend classes on campus should dictate whether or not a hybrid option would make sense for you. Totally online programs generally do not require any campus visits, but will likely include field experience requirements that can be completed in your community.
Students that are already in a career or have daily responsibilities that hinder them from committing to full-time campus programs might be the ideal benefactors for online degree programs in this field. If you feel the need to pursue higher educational endeavors without the added stress of daily commuting or students housing, you should explore which online options are available in your state.
How do I become a Bilingual Speech Therapist?
The path to becoming a bilingual speech therapist looks similar to the path required for all general speech pathologists. In each state, upcoming professionals may be required to complete a minimum of a Master's in Speech Pathology that has been accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Some degree programs offered through multiple universities may offer you the opportunity to complete minor programs or specializations as part of your general master's degree process. Schools that offer bilingual speech therapy as a specialization can help you learn the skills you need to effectively help children learning 2 languages.
The difference between the standard speech pathology program and bilingual speech therapy is that the specialization option may require that you take 3-4 additional classes and engage in a supervised work experience with bilingual clients while in the field. The licensure requirements for bilingual speech therapists states that trainees within this field must also be supervised by a currently licensed bilingual speech therapist.
When you are planning your path to licensure, you are encouraged to consult with your state's licensing agency to ensure that you meet all of the experience requirements and submit all of the required documentation on time and with all of the correct supporting elements.
In general, most states require around 9 months of in-person training during and after the graduate degree program, successful completion of the Praxis examination, and participation in a 1,260 hour fellowship with licensed professionals in your field.
Example Courses for a Master’s in Occupational Therapy
- Spanish Phonetics and Applied Linguistics: When you enroll in a bilingual speech therapy program, you can expect to take courses that focus on speech sounds and phonetics of the languages being learned. This course allows students to learn more about one of the most commonly used languages in the U.S., which can be beneficial when working with children that speak Spanish as their native language and are learning English alongside it. Utilizing similar sounds, comprehension of accents, and phonetic practice may be topics that are discussed in this course.
- Multicultural Issues for the Speech-Language Pathologist: If you are planning to work with bilingual children during your daily duties, you should spend some time getting to know the cultural of the group you work with. This course can outline some of the ethical and cultural issues related to working with children from different backgrounds and cultural norms. Comprehension of cultural beliefs and expectations can make your transition into bilingual speech therapy smoother, which can be more beneficial for you and your clients in the field.
- Speech and Language Assessment/Intervention in Bilingual Populations: While working in the field, you may utilize a certain set of assessments to determine the current level of functioning of your clients. This course can outline the various assessment processes that can be utilized with Spanish speaking clients, so that you can effectively determine their current level of speaking in both English and Spanish. Students in this course can also practice the development and implementation of interventions developed as a result of these assessments.
Occupational Therapist Careers
America is considered a melting pot for all cultures, languages, and beliefs. The children that are born into this country learning different languages may draw from the support of bilingual speech therapists that work in private practice, in speech and learning centers, and even within the school system.
Bilingual speech therapists may most often work for clinics that focus on increasing the communication of children and adults within the community. With the right type of licensure, you can even work in private practice, contracting clients that are in need of language support services.
Speech therapists that work within the school system might be contracted to work with students that are struggling between development in 2 different languages, especially in areas that have a high bilingual population.