December 18, 2013

Resourcing speech-language pathologists to work with multilingual clients

The following manuscript has just been accepted for publication: McLeod, S. (in press, December 2013). Resourcing speech-language pathologists to work with multilingual clients. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. 
This invited paper is based on my Elizabeth Usher Memorial address to the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Gold Coast, Australia, June 2013. Here is the abstract
Speech-language pathologists play important roles in supporting people to be competent communicators in the languages of their communities. However, with over 7000 languages spoken throughout the world and the majority of the global population being multilingual, there is often a mismatch between the languages spoken by children and families and their speech-language pathologists. This paper provides insights into service provision for multilingual children within an English-dominant country by viewing Australia’s multilingual population as a microcosm of ethnolinguistic minorities. Recent population studies of Australian preschool children show that their most common languages other than English are: Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, and Greek. Although 20.2% of services by Speech Pathology Australia members are offered in languages other than English, there is a mismatch between the language of the services and the languages of children within similar geographical communities. Australian speech-language pathologists typically use informal or English-based assessments and intervention tools with multilingual children. Thus, there is a need for accessible culturally and linguistically appropriate resources for working with multilingual children. Recent international collaborations have resulted in practical strategies to support speech-language pathologists during assessment, intervention, and collaboration with families, communities, and other professionals. The International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech was assembled to prepare a position paper to address issues faced by speech-language pathologists when working with multilingual populations. The Multilingual Children’s Speech website ( addresses one of the aims of the position paper by providing free resources and information for speech-language pathologists about more than 40 languages. These international collaborations have been framed around the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF-CY) and have been established with the goal of supporting multilingual children to participate in society.