Bilingual Symposium – 2018

This year the 18th annual Bilingual Symposium traveled back to sunny Las Vegas. The symposium was held at the Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa & Casino. The Green Valley’s Mediterranean-inspired style invoked a desert oasis feel for our attendees. Attendees could do enjoy a variety of activities, from finding a quiet nook to sit and relax to taking a chance on one of the many slot machines throughout the casino. Those staying at the GVR found time to relax poolside or shop at one of the many stores at the “District”. All attendees found their way to one of the many dining options available in and around the resort. In the evenings, many found their way to the Las Vegas strip and enjoyed the colorful Las Vegas attractions.

Symposium Welcome Reception

Every year the symposium kicks off with a cocktail welcoming attendees and their guests. We had a chance to meet first-time attendees and got caught up with our past attendees. Guests had an opportunity to chat with our presenters while enjoying the music from BT’s resident DJ, Nate Cornish-Raley. Nate welcomed everyone to our 18th Symposium and highlighted the changes that have occurred in the field of bilingual speech and language pathology. He welcomed this year’s speakers: Dr. Perla Gamez, Dr. Alba Ortiz, Ms. Phuong Palafox, Dr. Raul Prezas and Dr. Connie Summers. Attendees also received a sneak peek of the 1st clue of the “¿A Dónde Vamos?” game to guess where the Symposium will be heading for 2019.

Friday Sessions

Melissa White welcomed attendees and introduced first time speaker, Dr. Alba Ortiz. In her keynote address, “Connecting the Dots in the Education of English Language Learners: Challenges and Opportunities for Bilingual Speech and Language Pathologists”, Dr. Ortiz spoke of the roles Bilingual SLPs serve when working with English Language Learners. She highlighted areas where they can provide support in order to reduce misdiagnosis and advocate for responsive policies that relate to ELLS.

After a brief break, Dr. Perla Gamez continued with her session on “Language Exposure and Oral Language Development in Bilingual Children”. Dr. Gamez started her presentation with an overview of language exposure in the media and what we know from the research. She reviewed studies her lab is undertaking to analyze the quality of bilingual teachers’ language in the classroom and the quality of language ELLs are producing. She also provided participants with a “RICH” strategy to create language-rich classroom environments. After their session, the participants had time to enjoy lunch around the resort. Many were spotted at the GVR buffet.

Participants met back after lunch to participate in Dr. Ortiz’s session titled “Professional Learning Communities: Bilingual Monolingual Speech Pathologists Working Together to Serve English Learners”. Dr. Ortiz delved into the topic of second language acquisition and the misconceptions that parents, teachers, and SLPs have regarding the development of a second language. She had the participants analyze their own language proficiency and consider the complexity of language acquisition. Dr. Ortiz highlighted a variety of academic and social tasks that can help SLPs better gauge language proficiency in order to differentiate between language disorders and second language disorders.

After a delicious brownie break, the attendees settled in to hear Dr. Raul Preza’s presentation “Intervention Strategies for Enhancing the Phonological Systems of Bilingual Children with Highly Unintelligible Speech”. Dr. Prezas laid out a variety of interventions for the treatment of speech sound disorders in bilingual children. He provided examples of how to modify the “Cycles” approach for bilingual children.

At the end of his session, the attendees mingled and networked with other participants. They also worked out the answers to clues that were given throughout the day. Many hit the town and enjoyed one of the many shows that Las Vegas has to offer.

Saturday Sessions

The next morning, attendees started with Dr. Summers presentation “Assessment with CLD/Dual Language Learners: How to use Processing and Learning Tasks”. She noted that while many of the recommendations for non-biased assessment include non-word repetition tasks, not many of us are trained in how to use them. Dr. Summers reviewed when to use these tasks and how to do them in both English and Spanish.

After lunch, Ms. Phuong Palafox, continued with her presentation “Maximizing Cognitive, Behavioral, and Language Success for Students Living in Poverty”. After reviewing the data on poverty in the US and how that impacts students in our therapy rooms, she focused the audience on how SLPs can minimize the risk for gaps in language and learning. She gave the attendees a variety of strategies and ideas for therapy and treated them to a couple of the raps she uses for intervention.

The symposium ended with a roundtable discussion moderated by Melissa and Nate. In this “Ask the Expert” type of format, the audience asked the presenters a variety of questions based on the topics they discussed. The attendees took the opportunity to ask for clarification on issues addressed in the presentations and to ask for professional advice for issues they face in their workplace.  Nate and Melissa took a moment to thank our wonderful presenters and the amazing audience.

2019 Symposium

Every year, Bilingual Therapies plays a guessing game with the participants to “guess” the location of the upcoming symposium. Throughout the conference, attendees received clues via Facebook and Twitter and played the “A Dónde Vamos?” guessing game. Out of those who guessed correctly, five lucky individuals were chosen to receive $200 off their 2019 registration to…Cancún, Mexico! We can’t wait for you to join us next June.