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How to Navigate Bilingual AAC – Top 6 supports!

Posted Jul 7, 2021 - 11:38am

By Sarah Waldman, M.S. CCC-SLP

As a bilingual speech-language pathologist working with young kids who are developing language, I constantly hear the misnomer that we should only focus on teaching them English. “They are already delayed in one language, so it will be confusing to immerse them in two different languages” is a frequent statement. However, the idea that they should neglect their culture and dominant language in the home is not realistic or always best.  

In traditional speech and language therapy, this idea has been disproven many times, but when we think of our kids using an AAC system, it tends to add some perplexity to the situation. How can we help them have access to their native language and teach those messages along with the English ones? How can we provide an easy way to code switch from home to other environments when the two different languages may be alternated? How can we provide the family members or caregivers that only speak Spanish a way to model in a language they understand and use?

There are some fantastic bilingual resources out there! Below are the TOP 6 that I recommend:

  1. Core Connection Videos– these videos show a core word used in 3 daily routines. The videos show ideas of words that can be modeled or targeted in their natural environment. Some videos are in English and others in Spanish, including overlap of the same core words in both languages. For example a video for “more’ and a video for “más”. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8_c51K6963elQw9AOw90GVpQk8en9LVz
  2. Profiles/User Areas – On PRC-Saltillo devices, you can create one button that can toggle back and forth between two languages of a vocabulary file to quickly access the necessary language in a particular environment. On Saltillo devices, these are Profiles. On PRC devices, these are User Areas. Here is a video in Spanish demonstrating how to set up Profiles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQlpPQ883u0&list=PL8_c51K6963cojoU9K9pzaNxBMg5p5urC&index=12
  3. Modeling Video in Spanish - Modeling, or Aided Language Input, is the strategy that research shows is best for teaching an AAC system. One of my favorite resources to share with bilingual caregivers is this quick, easy to understand video by Chris Bugaj about this strategy. Having it available in Spanish to provide is such a win! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF6X0bi3SEE&t=1s
  4. Wordpower comparison chart – English & Spanish– this is a lovely list with visuals of the same messages you can target in English and Spanish using the Wordpower 60 Basic and Wordpower 60 Español Básico file. It is a very helpful tool to be able to mirror the same message in both languages! https://saltillo.com/downloads/chat/comparison-wordpower60-basic-english-and-espaol/Comparison%20WordPower%2060%20Basic%20English%20and%20Espanol.pdf
  5.  Activity First Handout in Spanish– this is a helpful handout that provides a framework to choose an activity and what words you will target throughout. It also provides ideas in the Spanish vocabulary for what words can be targeted within common activities. https://saltillo.com/downloads/chat/escogiendo-el-vocabulario-clave-el-acercamiento-de-actividad-primero-choosing-core-vocabulary-act/Escogiendo%20el%20vocabulario%20clave%20El%20acercamiento%20de%20actividad%20primero.pdf
  6. A Year of Core Spanish – Here is a great resource for specific words to target each month and the pathway to find them in the different Spanish vocabulary files offered by Saltillo! https://saltillo.com/chatcorner/content/31

So there you have it! Fear not, the next time you communicate with a person who is bilingual and uses AAC. Best practice supports exposing them to their second language and allowing them to communicate in their preferred language. Hopefully the resources above you give the tools to do so!

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