An Online Tool to Assess Sentence Comprehension in Teenagers at Risk for School Exclusion: Evidence From L2 Italian Students

Frontiers in Psychology 10 (2019)
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This study presents a web-based sentence comprehension test aimed at identifying high school students who are at risk for a language delay. By assessing linguistic skills on a sample of high school students with Italian as an L2 and their monolingual peers, attending a vocational school, we were able to identify a subgroup of L2 students with consistent difficulties in sentence comprehension, though their reading skills were within the average range. The same subgroup revealed to experience a lack of support within the school context, suggesting that poor L2 skills might be a critical variable to consider in order to identify students at risk for school exclusion. Regarding the test, accuracy to the on-line sentence comprehension task was significantly predicted by reading abilities and vocabulary skills, thus indicating that this test might represent a rapid but efficient way to assess linguistic abilities at school. We recommend that establishing a valid and practical procedure for the evaluation of linguistic skills in bilingual students who struggle with their L2 is the first step towards promoting social inclusion in the multilingual classroom, in order to increase their ability to actively participate in school and social activities.



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