Bilingual Symposium – 2011

Ritz-Carlton, San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 21-23th, 2011

Bilingual Therapies was pleased to return to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico to host the 11th annual Bilingual Symposium.  This year, the Symposium was held at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan, which lies on a spectacular white sand beach.  The Symposium was one of our largest, with around 150 participants who spent the weekend learning about issues in bilingualism, and making friends with others in the profession.


Bilingual U

New members of the Bilingual Therapies team arrived two days before the Symposium for an orientation period, and to learn more about the dynamics of being a bilingual speech-language pathologist.  Training was provided by Co-Clinical Directors, Nate Cornish and Melissa White.  Theses new clinicians enjoyed the time learning, and getting to know each other.  They were even adventurous enough to paddle the two-mile canoe ride together to see the Bioluminescent Bay during the evening!

Symposium Welcome Reception

The Thursday evening before kicking off the Symposium, we welcomed our attendees at an outdoor cocktail reception on a patio overlooking the ocean.  Guests had the opportunity to meet the presenters and other attendees while snacking on cheese empanadas and mini Beef Wellingtons.

Friday Sessions

Dr. Brian Goldstein opened the conference with his Keynote address, “What I Do When I Know That I Don’t Know: Practice without Evidence.”  Dr. Goldstein discussed the paucity of research in some of the issues that bilingual clinicians face and offered thoughts on how to continue to provide best practices when we can’t find information in the literature.

After a brief break, participants divided into their break-out groups.  Half of the attendees joined Dr. Cynthia Cress for her presentation, “Providing Culturally- and Linguistically-Responsive Services to Individuals with Severe Disabilities.”  Dr. Cress’ interactive approach added to the interesting content she presented.  Participants left the session with numerous “ready-to-use” strategies for working with individuals with severe impairments.

The other half of the participants spent the morning with Dr. Cate Crowley, who discussed, “Acquiring the Skills Needed to Distinguish Disability from Difference.”  Back by popular demand, Dr. Crowley spent the morning discussing some of the limitations with current ways of assessing CLD individuals.  Participants were not only impressed with the content that was presented, but thankful for Dr. Crowley’s engaging and helpful way of presenting it.

After the morning sessions, participants went out for lunch of Mofongo, Tostones, or any other number of the delicious Puerto Rican cuisine that was offered near the hotel.

In the afternoon Dr. Crowley’s group returned for the second portion of her session, in which she provided information and strategies for performing more useful and appropriate assessments to bilinguals.

The group that was with Dr. Cress in the morning joined Luis Riquelme, also back by popular demand, for a discussion on “Neural Plasticity & Bilingualism: Enough Evidence for Clinical Practice?”  Riquelme reviewed some principles of neural anatomy and physiology.  He then discussed the research that is available on the neurological systems of bilinguals and how this information is useful.  Luis’ grasp of the information, and his engaging manner, helped attendees better understand what can be a complex subject.

For the final session of the day, the attendees came back together for a workshop, provided by Dr. Goldstein, on the topic of, “Providing Phonological Intervention to Bilingual Children.”  Dr. Goldstein supplied information on the current available research (or the lack thereof) on planning phonological treatment to bilingual.  He then reviewed some practical strategies for identifying targets for therapy using the information that we do have.

After this very helpful session, participants left for the day to enjoy the beach or the pool, and to rest up for another day of learning.

Saturday Sessions

Saturday morning and afternoon were filled with breakout sessions.  The participants met in their groups again to hear the presentations that they did not see the previous day.  Once the afternoon breakout session was completed, participants met all together as a large group for the closing session and Round-Table forum.  This meeting consisted of all four presenters participating on a panel to respond to clinician questions.  The forum was a nice re-cap and synthesis of a lot of the information that was presented throughout the Symposium.  Co-Clinical Directors, Nate Cornish and Melissa White, moderated the session and afterwards took a moment to thank everyone involved and say

2012 Symposium

As has become the custom, Bilingual Therapies made a game out of guessing the location of the 2012 Symposium.  Throughout the conference, participants received clues to help them figure out where the next Symposium would be.  Out of those who guessed correctly, five lucky individuals were chosen to receive $200 off their 2012 registration.  Almost everyone guessed correctly that the site for next year’s Symposium is…. Orlando, Florida!  We are excited to be going to the Marriott World Center Resort, which is right at the doorstep of Disney World, July 19 – 21, 2012.  We hope to see you in Orlando!