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Metalinguistics: What SLPs Need to Know

Test Review of CELF-5 Metalinguistics: What SLPs Need to Know

Posted on October 13, 2014 by telleseff in Adolescents, Metalinguistics, Middle School, social
pragmatic language, speech language pathology, Test Review, Therapy

Recently, I purchased the Clinical Evaluation of


Language
Fundamentals,
Fifth
Edition
Metalinguistics
(CELF-5
Metalinguistics),
which is a revision of the Test of Language
CompetenceExpanded.
Basic overview
Release date: 2014
Age Range: 9-21
Author: Elizabeth Wiig and Wayne Secord
Publisher: Pearson
Description: According to the manual CELF5M was created to identify students 9-21 years old
who have not acquired the expected levels of communicative competence and metalinguistic ability
for their age (pg. 1). In other words the test targets higher level language skills beyond the basic
vocabulary and grammar knowledge and use. The authors recommend using this test with
studentswith subtle language disorders or those on the autism spectrum.
The test contains 5 subtests:
The Metalinguistics Profile subtest of the CELF-5:M is a questionnaire (filled out by caregiver or
teacher) which targets three areas: Words, Concepts, and Multiple Meanings; Inferences and
Predictions; as well as Conversational Knowledge and Use. Its aim is to obtain information about a
students metalinguistic skills in everyday educational and social contexts to complement the
evidence of metalinguistic strengths and weaknesses identified by the other subtests that comprise
the CELF-5:M test battery.
Questions address such topics as the childs
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comprehension of idioms and abstract language, their

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Questions address such topics as the childs comprehension of idioms and abstract language, their
predicting and inferencing abilities, their ability to deal with unpleasant situations, participate in
group discussions, as well as understand jokes and sarcasm, just to name a few. A maximum of
four points can be obtained on each of it 30 questions. The following is the rating criteria: a
score of one is obtained when a child never does something in a particular category (e.g.,
doesnt get the punchline of jokes). A score of two is given when a child is capable of
understanding or using something some of the time. A score of three is given when a child is
able to understand or perform something often. Finally, a score of four is given when a child is
capable of comprehending something always or almost always.

Aword of caution, when givingthis profile to either teachers or parents to fill out, the SLP must
ensure that no overinflation or underestimation of scores takes place. Frequently, some parents
may not have a clear understanding of the extent of their childs level of deficits. Similarly, some
teachers, especially those who may not know the child very well, or those who have worked with a
child for a very short period of time, may overinflate the scores when filling out the
questionnaire. However, the opposite may also occur. A small group of parents may
underestimate their childrens abilities, and provide poor scores as a result also not providing
an objective picture of the childs level of deficits. In such situations, the best option may be for
the SLP to fill out the questionnaire together with the parent or teacher in order to provide
explanations of questions in a different categories.
The Making Inferences subtest of the CELF-5:M evaluates the students ability to identify and
formulate logical inferences on the basis of existing causal relationships presented in short
narrative texts. The student is visually and auditorily presented with a particular situation by the
examiner. S/he is then asked to identify the best two out of four written answers for the ending
and come up with her own additional reason other than the ones listed in the stimulus book.
On the multiple choice portion of the subtest errors can result due to provision of contradictory,
unrelated and irrelevant responses. On the open ended questions portion of the subtest errors can
result due to vague, confusing, incomplete, unlikely or illogical responses as well as due to
contradictory and off topic answers.
I must say that this is my least favorite subtest. Heres why. In real life students are notprovided
with multiple choices when asked to make predictions or inferences. That is why I do not believe
that performance on this subtest is a true representation of the childs ability in this area.

The Conversational Skills subtest of the CELF-5:M


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evaluates the students ability to initiate a

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The Conversational Skills subtest of the CELF-5:M evaluates the students ability to initiate a
conversation or respond in a way that is relevant and pragmatically appropriate to the context and
audience while incorporating given words in semantically and syntactically correct sentences. S/he
are presented with a picture scene that creates a conversational context and two or three words
which are also printed above the pictured scene. S/he are then asked to formulate a
conversationally and pragmatically appropriate sentence for the given context using all of the
target words in the form (tense, number, etc.) provided.

Errors on this subtest can result due to pragmatic, semantic or syntactic errors. With respect to
pragmatics errors can result due to illogical, nonsensical, vague or incomplete sentences as well as
due to sentence formulation which does not take into account presented scenes. With respect to
semantics errors can result due to missing or misused target words as well as due to vague,
incorrect or misused verbiage. With respect to syntax errors can result due to use of sentence
fragments, morphological misuse of target words (changing word forms) as well as syntact
deviations on non-target words.
The Multiple Meanings subtest of the CELF-5:M evaluates the students ability to recognize and
interpret different meanings of selected lexical (word level) and structural (sentence level)
ambiguities. S/he are presented a sentence (orally and in text) that contained an ambiguity at
either the word or sentence level. S/he arethen asked to describe two meanings for each presented
sentence.
Errors can result due to difficulty interpreting lexical and structural ambiguities as well as due to an
inability to provide more than one interpretation to presented multiple meaning words.
The Figurative Language subtest of the CELF-5:M evaluates the students ability to interpret
figurative expressions (idioms) within a given context and match each expression with another
figurative expression of similar meaning given verbal and written support.
Errors on this subtest can result due todifficulty explaining the meanings of idiomatic expressions,
as well as due to difficulty selecting the appropriate meaning from visually provided multiple choice
answers containing related idiomatic expressions.

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Based on testing the following long-term goal can be generated:


LTG: Student will improve his/her metalinguistic abilities (thinking about language) for academic
and social purposes
It can also yield the following short-term goals
1. Student will improve ability to make social inferences with an without written support
2. Student will improve ability to to make social predictions with and without written support
3. Student will produce (choose one/all:syntactically, semantically, pragmatically) appropriate
compound and complex sentences with and without visual support
4. Studentwill improve ability to explain context embedded multiple meaning words
5. Student will improve ability to explain ambiguously worded language
6. Studentwill improve ability to explain figurative language and idiomatic expressions
A word of caution regarding testing eligibility:
What I am concerned about:
It is unfortunate that test administration begins at nine years of age. Metalinguistic abilities
develop in children much earlier than nine years of age.Children and young as six years of age
can present with glaring metalinguistic deficits but unless the examiner has access to other
testing which could assess the childrens metalinguistic abilities we have to wait until the child
is nine and is clearly behind his or her peers in their metalinguistic development in order to
confirm the presence of deficits.
I also dont understand the presence of visual and written stimuli on select testing
subtests.Children are not provided with multiple-choice answers or written support in daily
social and academic situations. As a result of the presence of these aids score overinflation may
occur with those children who do well given compensatory strategies but who have difficulty
generating novel spontaneous responses.
Similarly, I am concerned that higher functioning yet socially clueless students may be
administered this test because the examiners may believe that it would accurately assess their
higher functioning social pragmatic language abilities. However many higher functioning
students will pass this test with flying colors, which is why I urge considerable caution when
selecting student population for testing administration
Consequently theCELF-5: Madministration
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is not for everyone. As mentioned before I would only

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Consequently theCELF-5: Madministration is not for everyone. As mentioned before I would only
administer this test to higher functioning (but not too high functioning) students undergoing
language assessment for the first time or to higher functioning students receiving a re-evaluation,
who have previously passed the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-5 with ease. This
test would not be appropriate for Severely Challenged and Challenged Social Communicators(see
Winner, 2011)
I would also not administer this test to the following populations:
Studentswithintellectual disabilities
Studentswith severe language impairment and limited vocabulary inventories
English Language Learners (ELL) with suspected language deficits
Students from low SES backgrounds*
I would not administer the CELF-5:M to the latter two groups of students due to significantly
increased potential for linguistic and cultural bias stemming from lack of previous knowledge and
exposure to popular culture as well as idiomatic expressions.

I would also not administer this test to Nuance Challenged Social Communicators (Winner,
2011).Specifically to Socially Anxious andWeak Interactive Social Communicators (Winner, 2011
pg. 9-12 ). These are the students with average or above average verbal language abilities most of
whom did not have language delays when they were young. They have a well-developed social
radar and theyre highly aware of other people feelings and thoughts. However they have
difficulties navigating subtle social cues of others. As a result this particular group of students
tends to score quite on metalinguistic and social pragmatic testing of reduced complexity yet still
present with pervasive social pragmatic language deficits.
Consequently, a Social Language Development Test (Linguisystems) or a Social Thinking Dynamic
Assessment Protocol (Winner) administration would better suit their needs.
What I do like about this test:
This test allows me to identify more subtle language based difficulties in verbal children with
average to high average intelligence (or EmergingSocial Communicators as per Winner, 2011) who
present with metalinguistic and social pragmatic language weaknesses in the following areas:
Social predicting and inferencing
Conversational rules and breakdown repairs
Knowledge of high-level and abstract vocabulary
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words

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Knowledge of high-level and abstract vocabulary words


Identification and usage of ambiguous and figurative language
Coherent and cohesive discourse and narrative formulation
Knowledge and use of multiple meaning words in a variety of conversational and textembedded contexts
Overall, this is an nice test to have in your assessment toolkit. Consequently,if SLPs exercise
caution in test candidate selection they can obtain very useful information for metalinguistic and
social pragmatic language treatment goal purposes.
Have YOU purchased CELF-5:M yet? If so how do you like using it? Post your comments,
impressions and questions below.
Helpful Resources Related to Social Pragmatic Language Overview, Assessment and
Remediation:
The Checklists Bundle
Narrative Assessment and Treatment Bundle
Social Pragmatic Assessment and Treatment Bundle
Psychiatric Disorders Bundle
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Assessment and Treatment Bundle
Social Pragmatic Deficits Checklist for Preschool Children
Social Pragmatic Deficits Checklist for School Aged Children
Behavior Management Strategies for Speech Language Pathologists
Social Pragmatic Language Activity Pack
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are the personal opinion of the author. The author is
not affiliated with Pearson in any way and was not provided by them with any complimentary
products or compensation for the review of this product.

About telleseff
Tatyana Elleseff MA CCC-SLP Tatyana Elleseff is a bilingual speech-language
pathologist who specializes in working with multicultural, internationally and
domestically adopted as well as at-risk children with complex communication
disorders. She received her MA from NYU, her Bilingual Extension Certification from
Columbia University and 4 ACE awards for continuing education from ASHA (to date). Her
articles have been published in several magazines including Adoption Today, ASHA
Perspectives SIG 16 and 17, as well as Advance for Speech-Language Pathologists and
Audiologists. She has presented for a number of medical, academic and non-profit
organizations including Speechpathology.com, Advance Magazine for Speech-Language
Pathologists, New Jersey Speech Language and Hearing Convention, American Academy of
Pediatrics: Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship, New Jersey Taskforce on Child
Abuse and Neglect as well as North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC).
View all posts by telleseff

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Review of Social Language Development Test Elementary: What SLPs Need to Know

Trackbacks/Pingbacks
1. What Are Speech Pathologists To Do If the (C)APD Diagnosis is NOT Valid? | Smart Speech
Therapy LLC - July 29, 2015
[] Comprehension of Ambiguous and Figurative Language (idioms, ambiguous expressions,
etc.)(Suggestion: administer portions of Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals
-5Metalinguistics) []

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