F-TARSP: assessing and treating young Frisian speaking children in their native language

Dijkstra, Jelske

Fryske Akademy, The Netherlands


In Friesland, a bilingual province in the north of the Netherlands, speech and language therapists experience great difficulties when a young native speaker of Frisian needs to be assessed. There are no language instruments developed for Frisian speaking children, so these children can only be examined in Dutch. Since it is important to assess a bilingual child in both languages as far as possible, assessing in Dutch only gives insufficient information. Furthermore, speech and language therapists lack accurate knowledge about language development of Frisian children. Such information is highly necessary to set up a treatment plan for the child. Until now, little research has been done on the subject.

Currently, a Frisian version of the Dutch language instrument TARSP (Language Assessment Remediation and Screening Procedure) is developed. This Dutch TARSP (Schlichting, 2005) is based on the well known English LARSP (Crystal et al., 1976). Its profile chart shows the order in which morpho-syntactic language structures are developed by children. Speech and language therapists can use this instrument to measure the child’s developmental stage as well as use the chart itself as a guideline for treatment.

The Frisian TARSP, called F-TARSP, is based on spontaneous speech samples. Sound recordings were made of 100 native speakers of Frisian aged between 1;9-4;2 years old at home during play. The children are equally divided over five age groups with ranges of six months each. Also sex and two levels of socio-economic status (SES) are taken into account. Each speech sample contains 200 transcribed and analysed utterances. Dealing with Frisian instead of Dutch, naturally resulted in several interesting linguistic problems. These had to be dealt with as well during the analysis. All children were assigned to one of seven developmental stages, depending on the number of elements he or she used in the utterances. The profile chart was developed by assigning all morphologic and syntactic structures to a particular stage. This was done based on a 50%-s rule: when 50% of all children used a particular structure, the structure belonged to that stage. In this way the profile chart gives an exact overview of the order in which the child learns Frisian morpho-syntactic structures.


Crystal, D., Fletcher, P. & Garman, M. (1976). The Grammatical Analysis of Language Disability. London: Edward Arnold

Schlichting, L. (2005 7th). TARSP: Taalontwikkelingsschaal van Nederlandse kinderen van 1-4 jaar. Amsterdam: Harcourt Assessment BV (1st print 1987).

Session: POSTERS:Focus on language policy, literacy, education, identity
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:00-15:45
room: foyer