Original Research

Adapting and translating the Mullen Scales of Early Learning for the South African context

Juan Bornman, MaryAnn Romski, Kerstin Tonsing, Rose Sevcik, Robyn White, Andrea Barton-Hulsey, Refilwe Morwane
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 65, No 1 | a571 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v65i1.571 | © 2018 Juan Bornman, MaryAnn Romski, Kerstin Tonsing, Rose Sevcik, Robyn M. White, Andrea Barton-Hulsey, Refilwe Morwane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 July 2017 | Published: 08 March 2018

About the author(s)

Juan Bornman, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa
MaryAnn Romski, Department of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences, Georgia State University, United States
Kerstin Tonsing, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Rose Sevcik, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, Georgia State University, United States
Robyn White, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Andrea Barton-Hulsey, Research in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Lab, Georgia State University, United States
Refilwe Morwane, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: South African speech-language therapists have identified the need for culturally valid and sensitive assessment tools that can accommodate multiple languages and cover a reasonable age range. The Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL) extend from birth to 68 months, contain five separate subscales including receptive language, expressive language, gross motor, fine motor and visual reception scale, are straightforward to administer and have been successfully used in other African countries, such as Uganda. It also identifies a child’s strengths and weaknesses and provides a solid foundation for intervention planning.

Objectives: This research aimed to demonstrate the appropriateness and usefulness of the translated and culturally and linguistically adapted MSEL across four South African languages (Afrikaans, isiZulu, Setswana and South African English) through two sub-aims: (1) to describe differences, if any, in MSEL performance across language groups and (2) to describe differences, if any, in MSEL performance between age groups.

Method: A total of 198 typically developing children between the ages of 21 and 68 months spread across the four language groups were individually assessed with the culturally and linguistically adapted and translated MSEL.

Results: A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed no statistically significant differences between the four language groups for total MSEL scores. A Welch’s one-way ANOVA showed that the total MSEL scores were significantly different between age groups.

Conclusion: The translation and adaptation of the MSEL was successful and did not advantage or disadvantage children based on their home language, implying that linguistic equivalence was achieved. The MSEL results differed between age groups, suggesting that the measure was also successful in differentiating the performance of children at different developmental levels.

Keywords

assessment; children; cultural adaption; linguistic equivalence; Mullen Scales of Early Learning; translation

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