Current project

Bullying victimization in students with Special Educational Needs related with language difficulties (STARTING SEPTEMBER 2022)

This project is partially a continuation of a previous one on the developmental study of specific difficulties in language acquisition (Developmental Language Disorder, DLD; and reading difficulties, RD) and their school correlates, with a particular interest in bullying victimization. The association between difficulties in language acquisition and bullying has been little addressed by the scientific community, despite the few existing studies indicating that language acquisition and communication problems are risk factors for victimization and peer rejection. Both language difficulties and bullying can have negative consequences in the medium and long-term on academic performance and psychological well-being. In addition, other personal (emotional, cognitive, temperamental, and gender), and contextual (familiar and school characteristics) factors may have a modulating role in the triggering, maintenance, as well as impact of bullying on victims. However, detecting people with language difficulties, especially at the oral level, is still challenging, as evidenced in the different campaigns devoted to raise awareness on these difficulties and their repercussions. Similarly, victimization forms often different in boys as compared to girls, with the former experiencing more frequently from physical victimization and the latter suffering from subtler ways of bullying, such as being teased. In the present project, we will further deepen into the prospective and retrospective study of the relationship between difficulties in language acquisition and bullying. Knowing its short and long-term repercussions, in addition to the early detection of language difficulties, will be essential to prevent bullying in students with specific educational needs. To reach this aim we propose two different studies. The first study will continue a 4-year longitudinal study on the identification of personal and contextual factors related to the current experience of bullying in a large sample (N = 107) of pre-adolescents with or without a clinical diagnosis of DLD or RD through their secondary education (through 12 to 16 years of age). The second study will focus on retrospectively exploring the prevalence of language difficulties in adults who have been bullied at any moment of their lives. This second study will allow the investigation of the long-term repercussions of bullying and of putative mediating factors between difficulties in language acquisition and victimization-related variables, which might be related to emotional regulation, gender, and self-esteem among others. The results of the current project will be relevant to the orientation of future prevention and intervention actions for detection protocols, which will aim at avoiding the appearance of bullying episodes and alleviate the harmful effects these may cause on those who suffer or have suffered from it.

Language acquisition difficulties and bullying: exploratory and mediating factors (EDU2018-85909-P).

This project is a follow-up of previous projects of the applicant Research Group regarding the developmental study of specific difficulties in language acquisition. Results of previous studies evidenced a poor level of social skills in children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI), an aspect that might potentially make them vulnerable to be bullied at school. The relationship between language acquisition difficulties and bullying has not been explored in-depth, despite the extant scarce works on the topic have shown that language acquisition and communication difficulties seem to pose a risk factor towards victimization and peer rejection. On the other hand, these phenomena can have negative consequences on the academic performance and the psychological well-being of those affected in the medium and long-term. In addition, scientific literature identifies the existence of other emotional, cognitive and temperamental factors, which can have a modulating role in inducing, maintaining and in the consequences of bullying on the victims. For this reason, with a preventive and palliative motivation, the aim of this project is to prospectively and retrospectively study the relationship between language acquisition difficulties and bullying. The results of this project will have repercussions on the orientation of future prevention and intervention actions aimed to avoid the occurrence of bullying and at alleviating the harmful effects on those who suffer or have suffered it.

Previous projects

Bilingualism and education: impact on executive control and language in persons with and without Specific Language Impairment (SLI) (EDU2013-45174-P). Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Due date: December 2017.

This project is arranged in two main objectives. For the first main goal, we will examine the association between several dimensions of personality, language switching habits, and several cognitive control measures in wide a sample of young Catalan-Spanish bilinguals. Given that decision making might differ between languages within the bilingual person, we will also explore how moral dilemmas are modulated in the bilingual mind. In the second main aim of the study, we will evaluate bilingualism’s impact on both linguistic and executive control capacities in children with and without Specific Language Impairment (SLI). With this project, we will address an important issue raised by our multicultural society: to know whether the presence of multiple languages in the mind of a child with severe difficulties in language acquisition is beneficial or detrimental for his cognitive, linguistic, and educational development.

Development and change of language acquisition difficulties and their influence in learning to read and write (SEJ2006-12616/PSIC). Ministerio de Educación y Cultura. Due date: January 2012.

The aim of this project was the longitudinal study of language difficulties in bilingual Spanish-Catalan children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). We first described their linguistic symptoms in a representative sample of children with SLI in Mallorca (Spain) compared to their age-matched controls. Through a causal model, we reported the main predictors of literacy acquisition in bilingual Spanish-Catalan children (5 years – 12 years of age), thus becoming one of the few projects exploring the temporal course of language development among bilingual Spanish-Catalan children with SLI.