June 28, 2012

International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association Conference

This week is the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association Conference held at University College Cork, in Ireland. I always enjoy ICPLA conferences, because they are times to meet with old friends and make many new ones. I always learn so many new things and come away brimming with new ideas for research and collaborations.

This year there are 250 delegates from 33 different countries. There will be 4 keynotes, 9 thematic panels, 60 oral presentations, and 160 posters. Professor David Crystal will receive honours of the association, the first award to ever be made by the association. 

During the conference I am co-presenting 3 papers and 2 posters with my colleagues and students:
  • Lockart, R. & McLeod, S. (2012, June). Accuracy of identification and transcription of speech sound errors in a non-native language. (paper)
  • Wren, Y., McLeod, S., White, P., Miller, L., & Roulstone, S. (2012, June). Speech characteristics of 8-year-old children with speech difficulties: Findings from a prospective population study. (paper)
  • Crowe, K. & McLeod, S. (2012, June). Case studies of the use of extIPA transcription. (invited paper)
  • Crowe, K., McLeod, S., Ching, T. (2012, June). Multilingualism and multi-modalism in children with hearing loss and their families. (poster)
  • Washington, K. N. & McLeod, S. (2012, June). Bi-dilectal considerations for Jamaican Creole: A focus on phonology (poster)

Fiona Gibbon (conference co-chair) and Sara Howard (ICPLA president)

Margaret Kehoe (Switzerland), Sharynne, Jan van Doorn (Sweden), David Snow (USA)

International expert panel on multilingual children's speech

Today I chaired an international expert panel on multilingual children's speech in Cork, Ireland. This was the first meeting of the panel, and subsequent meetings with a larger group of participants will be held virtually. The aims of the panel are to:
  • Define international best practice guidelines for working with multilingual children with speech sound disorders.
  • Identify practical pathways for improvement of international practices for working with multilingual children with speech sound disorders.
  • Share resources, current research, and exemplary practices regarding multilingual children’s speech.
  • Plan collaborative projects to advance knowledge about multilingual children’s speech.
 We had a very rich discussion throughout the day, that was inspired by the following quote: How do we “close the gap between the linguistic homogeneity of the profession and the linguistic diversity of its clientele” ?(Caesar & Kohler, 2007, p. 198) 
By the end of the day we had outlined issues to enable us to prepare the draft of a position paper on multilingual children's speech. 

The international expert panel hard at work

The panel was still smiling at the end of our stimulating day together

June 27, 2012

Growing up in Ireland

Today I visited University College Cork, and spoke with colleagues in the speech therapy department who are using the Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal study data to consider prevalence of speech and language impairment in 9-year-old children in Ireland. They have been using papers that we have published from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) study in Australia to compare with their data. It was interesting to discuss the similarities and differences between the two studies and the two sets of results. A number of questions asked in the LSAC study about speech and language have also been used in the Growing Up in Ireland study. However, while LSAC began data collection with two waves at 0 and 4 years, Growing Up in Ireland began data collection with two waves at 9 months and 9 years.
Dr Ciara O'Toole, Zoe Rooke, Prof Fiona Gibbon - University College Cork

Kissing the Blarney Stone!

While in Cork I had to visit Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone, that is said to give you the "gift of the gab" or the "gift of eloquence". My speech-language pathology colleagues and I thought it was worth the effort to lie on our backs and hang over a sheer drop to kiss the stone so that we increased our ability to talk (although some of our family did suggest that we did not need to). We were thankful for the gentleman who made sure we did not fall. We wondered if early speech therapy in Ireland involved a visit to the castle!

Speech Pathology Australia Conference in Hobart

While I am in Cork, Ireland, the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference is underway in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. My students are presenting papers and posters for the first time - and from all reports have done extremely well. The following presentations have just been completed on the other side of the world to me:

  • Lockart, R. & McLeod, S. (2012, June). Australian speech pathologists' assessment of the speech of Cantonese-speaking children (poster)
  • Limbrick, N., McCormack, J. & McLeod, S. (2012, June). Designs and decisions: A review of informal measures for assessing children's speech. 
Bek Lockart presenting her poster in Hobart

June 23, 2012

Planning multilingual assessments in Bristol

While visiting the Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit in Bristol I had the opportunity to speak with staff, students and visitors to the department about a wide range of research projects (current and future).
I enjoyed meeting all of the postgraduate students and research assistants. I found out about the Parent Research Panel that has been formed to inform the Child Talk - What Works research project.
SLTRU staff and students
I also enjoyed discussing ideas for computerised assessments with Dr Yvonne Wren and Dave Rush from Alfiesoft and Mandarin/Putonghua assessments with Dr Zeng Biao. Yvonne, Prof Sue Roulstone and I had many other projects to discuss including ways to use the ALSPAC longitudinal study data to further inform us about children's speech and language skills.
Dave Rush and Dr Yvonne Wren

Dr Zeng Biao, Sharynne and Dr Yvonne Wren

June 22, 2012

Features of the Bristol accent

I have spent the week in Bristol and have enjoyed hearing the Bristolian accent. Here is a summary of some of the features, as outlined by Yvonne Wren and colleagues in a paper that is currently in submission for publication:
1. Use of [ə] for /ʌ/ (as in ‘putt’).
2. Use of [a] for /ɑː/ (as in ‘bath’)
3. Slightly longer or fuller vowels than RP e.g. mad [maˑd]; job [ʤɑˑb]; also - bucket [bəˑkɪˑʔ] rather than /bʌkɪˑʔ/; goodness [ˈgʊdnɛs] rather than /gʊdnəs/ or /gʊdnɪs/.

1. Post vocalic /ɹ/ as in [fɑɹm]
2. Presence of /l/ following word final /ə/ (as in ‘Americal’) and also medially in e.g. ‘drawling’ and ‘chimley’. (This is a feature known as Bristol ‘l’ and is confined to the local area of Bristol. ‘Eva’ and ‘evil’ would be homonyms in a child who shows this feature.)
3. Use of [f] for /θ/
4. Use of glottal stop for /t/ before a pause e.g. Pete – [piːʔ]

Australian Census data shows changes in Australia’s cultural and linguistic diversity

Australia’s 2011 census data were released today. Here are some interesting statistics:
  • Australia's population is now over 21.5 million
  • One in four people were born overseas, with the most common places of birth being India (13%) and UK (12%)
  • Mandarin is now the second most common language spoken at home other than English, (previously this was Italian).
  • Hinduism is the fastest growing religion
  • 15% of the population does not hold citizenship
  • Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander population is just under 550,000 (an increase of 20.5% since last census), with a third living in capital city areas
  • The median age of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is 21 years - 16 years lower than the national figure
 Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-21/census-stats-reveal-australian-population-growing-strongly/4084130?WT.svl=news3

June 21, 2012

Listening Conference in Bristol

On 20th June the University of the West of England hosted a 1 day conference titled: Listening to Children and Young People with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. The conference was attended by over 50 speech and language therapists, teachers, psychologists, parents and students. During the conference our Children Draw Talking art exhibition was displayed. I was invited to present the keynote address titled: The importance and challenges of listening to children and young people with speech, language and communication needs
The other presenters were:
  • Rena Lyons: Exploring identity in children with speech and/or language impairments
  • Ros Merrick: Picture Me: Using illustrations in conversation with children
  • Graham Daniel and Sharynne McLeod: Listening to children with speech and language impairment: Implications for teachers of young children  (presented by Graham via video conference from Australia!)
  • Mary Wickenden:  See me, not just the chair: Aspects of identity for disabled teenagers who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • Helen Hambly: One voice among many – contrasting children’s experiences of their primary language impairment (PLI) with the experiences of their parents, peers and the professionals who support them
  • Sue Roulstone: Children’s perspectives from the Better Communication Research Programme
  • Linda Lascelles: Chief Executive, Afasic: Tuning in to children and young people with speech and language difficulties.
    Sharynne presenting the keynote address

    Rachael and Jim, Ros Merrick, Helen Hambly, Sharynne, Sue Roulstone, Linda Lascelles, Mary Wickenden, Rena Lyons

    Year 3 students from Cardiff University with their copies of the Listening book

    Graham Daniel presenting his paper from Australia

    Rosemary Hayhow, and Anna Blackwell

    Jim and Rachael from J&R Press

June 16, 2012

Launch of the FOCUS: Focus on Outcomes of Children Under Six

The FOCUS team: Nancy Thomas-Stonell (seated), L-R Bruce Oddson, Bernadette Robertson, Karla Washington, Peter Rosenbaum, Joan Walker

This week a new outcome measure of communicative participation was launched in Toronto, Canada.  The FOCUS: Focus on Outcomes of Children Under Six is a parent and clinician-report measure that is framed around the World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). The FOCUS has taken 12 years to develop and has established reliability and validity measures. 
I was invited to open the 2-day conference with a presentation titled: "Children’s speech, language & communication: Learning from the WHO’s focus on functioning & participation". 
Other presentations included: 
  • Using the Communication Function Classification System (CFCS) Mary Jo Cooley Hidecker
  • Development and Validation of the FOCUS© Nancy Thomas-Stonell, Bernadette Robertson & Bruce Oddson
  • Outcomes and Predictors of Outcomes for preschoolers with S/LI: A Post-doctoral Research Study Using the FOCUS© Karla Washington
  • Measures & Measurement: Do we really need another lecture on this? Peter Rosenbaum
  • Knowledge Translation: A great idea but how do we overcome people’s conservatism?  Dr. Peter Rosenbaum & Dr. Virginia Wright
  •  What do we know about effective knowledge translation strategies? Dr. Diane Russell
  • Opportunities & Challenges with using the FOCUS© Claire Maclean, Judy Meintzer, and Kate Wishart

Planning future research projects

Over the past week I have been working with Dr Karla Washington to plan our upcoming research project in Jamaica in January. We have been working on grants, ethics protocols and papers.

June 6, 2012

Parents' choices about language mode and use

Kate Crowe is one of my PhD students who is working on a fascinating and important topic. She is examining parental choices about the language mode (speech / signing) and language (English / Arabic / Greek / etc) for children with hearing loss. She has asked over 100 parents using a survey that included both open-ended questions and closed questions. She has been analysing the quantitative data with A/Prof David McKinnon, and the qualitative data with Dr Loraine Fordham. This picture shows the first stage of analysis of the qualitative data - using the old-fashioned technique of reading and sorting meaning statements to create themes. She is now entering the data into NVivo to undertake further analyses of the important insights these parents have given about the factors that influence their choices.
Dr Libbey Murray and Kate Crowe discussing emerging themes from Kate's data (in Brisbane)
UPDATE February 2013:
Here is the link to the published paper from this research

Disentangling the impact of speech and language impairment from speaking a language other than English

While in Brisbane I have been able to discuss and progress the analysis of data regarding children in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) who speak languages other than English. My colleagues, Dr Sue Walker (Queensland University of Technology), Chrystal Whiteford (QUT), Linda Harrison (CSU) and I have been disentangling the impact of speaking a language other than English from having a speech and language delay in any/all languages.

Here is a summary of our findings to date:
Within Australia educational provisions are made to support children who speak languages other than English (LOTE) as their primary language. For children who speak a LOTE and have speech and language difficulties in each language, additional support services are required. This study aimed to determine the impact of primarily speaking a language other than English at home when 4- to 5-years-old on teacher-rated literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional outcomes at 8- to 9-years-old for children identified with and without overall speech and language concern. Participants were from the Kindergarten cohort of The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) (n = 4983). A matched-case control design (controlled for sex, socio-economic position (SEP), and age) enabled comparison between four groups of children: a) English + typical speech and language (n=109), b) LOTE + typical speech and language (n=109), c) English + speech and language concern (n=109), d) LOTE + speech and language concern (n=109). Next, multiple regression analyses were undertaken for the entire LSAC sample (n=4983) constructed in a hierarchical framework, with variables entered in four steps: child factors (including LOTE), family factors, competencies when 4- to 5-years-old, then competencies when 6- to 7-years-old. Three teacher-rated outcome measures at age 8- to 9-years were considered. The results indicated at 4- to 5-years there were significant differences between groups a) and b) on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), a direct assessment measure, and the parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Further, there were significant differences between groups c) and d) on the PPVT. Children speaking LOTE performed more poorly than English speaking children on both these measures. There were no significant differences between groups on the Who am I? (WAI). However, by 8-to 9-years speaking a LOTE did not predict school-age academic and social-emotional difficulties. Significant predictors for Language and Literacy included SEP, parent and teacher reported use of speech pathology services, expressive language concerns, PPVT at 4- to 5-years and children’s competencies at 6- to 7-years. Significant predictors for Mathematical Thinking included child sex, SEP, LOTE, parent and teacher reported use of speech therapy, 4/5 PPVT and children’s competencies at 6- to 7-years. For the SDQ significant predictors included child sex, SEP, receptive language concerns and children’s approaches to learning at 6-7 years. These results indicate that presence of speech and language concern at 4- to 5-years was a greater predictor of school-age academic and social-emotional difficulties than speaking a LOTE.

Sue Walker, Chrystal Whiteford, Linda Harrison & Sharynne

Brisbane: Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network

This week almost 70 people within the Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network met in Brisbane. The CRN includes researchers from Charles Sturt University, Monash University, and Queensland University of Technology. What an inspiring week by the Brisbane River!
Over the week we have gone under, over and around many research ideas and questions
Love the spelling! Actually we are mostly "sisters" not "bro"s

June 2, 2012

A systematic review of the influence of bilingualism on speech production

The following paper has been accepted for publication this week:
Hambly, H., Wren, Y., McLeod, S., & Roulstone, S. (2012, in press May). The influence of bilingualism on speech production: A systematic review. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.

Background: Children who are bilingual and have speech sound disorder are likely to be under-referred, possibly due to confusion about typical speech acquisition in bilingual children.
Aims: The aim of this review was to investigate what is known about the impact of bilingualism on children’s acquisition of speech in English to facilitate identification and treatment of bilingual children with speech sound disorder.
Methods: A systematic review of studies from the last 50 years was conducted. Studies investigating speech acquisition in bilingual infants and children (where one language was English) were identified through searching 7 electronic databases, bibliographies of relevant articles and emailing authors. Sixty six studies investigating bilingual speech production met inclusion criteria, with 53 describing typically developing children and 13 describing children with speech sound disorder. The 66 studies were analysed thematically and summarised in terms of methods, key findings and underlying theories.
Main Contribution:
There was limited evidence to suggest that bilingual children develop speech at a slower rate than their monolingual peers; however, there was evidence for qualitative differences and increased variation in speech production. Nearly all studies provide evidence for transfer between the two phonological and language structures, although the amount of transfer varied between studies. There was evidence of positive and negative transfer of features from the dominant language (L1) to the second language (L2) as well as from L2 to L1. Positive transfer became more evident with increased age and length of exposure to a second language. More recently researchers have moved away from investigating whether there are one or two phonological systems and accept that there are two systems that interact.  Interest has shifted to examining how phonological systems interact and to identifying factors that influence interactions. The review revealed a number of inconsistencies in the findings of studies due to differences in methodology, languages investigated, and degree of language exposure. Overall, measurement issues were addressed well but most studies provided limited sample information about language experience, schooling and socio-economic status.
Conclusions: There are differences in speech sound acquisition between monolingual and bilingual children in terms of rate and patterns of error, with both positive and negative transfer occurring in bilingual children.

June 1, 2012

Book review: Listening to children and young people

The following book review has just been published in the RCSLT Bulletin referring to Listening to Children and Young People with Speech, Language, and Communication Needs. Here are some excerpts

"I am a self-confessed train/bedtime reader, so I found this book fantastic for its dip-in-able, engaging and readable style.

The first few pages are a series of short passages...These are heart-warming, sensitively written and very powerful examples of the impact of our work...their voices radiate through the pages.

The rest of the book ... is packed with different ideas and techniques that I have been truly inspired by...

 I would normally recommend taking a thriller to bed but I will put my neck on the line and say that your clinical practice will be enhanced after ‘sleeping on this book’."

Reviewer Kirsty Bui, SLT, Director, SLT Journal Club
Overall rating: 4 out of 5