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South African Journal of Communication Disorders

On-line version ISSN 2225-4765
Print version ISSN 0379-8046


BORNMAN, Juan et al. Adapting and translating the Mullen Scales of Early Learning for the South African context. S. Afr. J. Commun. Disord. [online]. 2018, vol.65, n.1, pp.1-9. ISSN 2225-4765.

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.

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