Language sampling is an essential part of any speech and language evaluation and research has shown it to be less biased against culturally and linguistically diverse children than standardized tests. Information presented in the language sample will consist of utterances collected from the parent interview in critical question 9 as well as language elicited during the evaluation.
A variety of activities can be used to elicit a good language sample from the child including pictures (such as the subway photo or the dogman) or toys that can be given personalities and manipulated (dolls, costumes). Whatever is used, the idea is to get the child interested and engaged in order to encourage the child’s highest level functioning to emerge. For this reason it is also important to collect sample utterances from the parent or guardian. The child may not want to perform for an unknown adult (i.e. the evaluator) so the parent can give you examples of the child’s highest level of functioning in the time preceding the evaluation.
The language sample is used to determine speech (e.g., phonemic repertoire, articulation errors) and language development when compared to peers from the child’s speech community. For this reason, it is important for the examiner to develop clinical judgment so that they are familiar with what is typical in the child’s speech community. The examiner should be careful not to penalize the child for using linguistic forms that are not part of Standard American English (e.g., code-switching, dialectal forms), as long as they are typical for the child’s speech community. Additionally, utterances collected for the language sample should be used in holograms to illustrate the child’s strengths and weaknesses in a concrete way.