August 27, 2015

DocFest + 3MT at Charles Sturt University

This week my PhD students (Ben, Helen, Sarah, and Suzanne) have been attending DocFest at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. DocFest brings together research and higher degree students from across the university (either virtually or face-to-face) to share their research and listen to excellent presentations about writing, grants, postdocs, and many other topics. Sarah Masso and Suzanne Hopf presented their PhD research. In addition Sarah Masso came second in the CSU 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. Congratulations Sarah!
Suzanne and Helen met in Sydney before DocFest

Celebrating Speech Pathology Week in Port Macquarie

During Speech Pathology Week, I was invited to present a public lecture by Charles Sturt University at the Glasshouse in Port Macquarie titled "Children's Speech and Language Competence". The event was sold out, and was attended by members of the community, including many speech pathologists and educators.

Earlier in the day, I presented a free workshop for early childhood educators titled "Speech and language acquisition: Helping children succeed". Educators travelled from surrounding cities to attend.

The events were covered in the media:
ABC North Coast radio interview with Michael Spooner (Wed 26th August, 9:40am)
"Talk about Speech" in The Port News (Wed 26th August - page 7)
Sharynne with Michael Spooner, ABC North Coast Radio

August 23, 2015

Speech Pathology Week

In 2015, Speech Pathology Week is from 23-29 August.
The theme for the week is Talk with me.
During Speech Pathology Week 2015, Talk with me about the more than 1.1 million Australians who have a communication or swallowing disorder that impacts on their daily life. Talk with me about why communication is a basic human right. And Talk with me about the silence that comes with a communication disorder.
Speech Pathology Week seeks to promote the speech pathology profession and the work done by speech pathologist when working with people with communication and swallowing disorders.

August 16, 2015

Multilingualism and speech-language competence in early childhood: Impact on academic and social-emotional outcomes at school

The following paper has been accepted today. This is my 100th journal article to be accepted for publication, so is an important milestone for me. Even more important is the content of the paper. 
McLeod, S., Harrison, L. J., Whiteford, C., & Walker, S. (2015, in press). Multilingualism and speech-language competence in early childhood: Impact on academic and social-emotional outcomes at school. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. 
Here is the link to the article.
Here are the highlights

  • Academic and social-emotional outcomes were examined for a population sample of 4,983 children followed from 4-5 years to 8-9 years.
  • Multilingualism was not found to contribute to poorer educational and social-emotional outcomes at school.
  • The main predictor of academic difficulties at school was concern about 4- to 5-year-old children’s speech and language (regardless of whether they spoke English-only or were multilingual).
Here is the abstract
This large-scale longitudinal population study provided a rare opportunity to consider the interface between multilingualism and speech-language competence on children’s academic and social-emotional outcomes and to determine whether differences between groups at 4 to 5 years persist, deepen, or disappear with time and schooling. Four distinct groups were identified from the Kindergarten cohort of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) (1) English-only + typical speech and language (n = 2,012); (2) multilingual + typical speech and language (n = 476); (3) English-only + speech and language concern (n = 643); and (4) multilingual + speech and language concern (n = 109). Two analytic approaches were used to compare these groups. First, a matched case-control design was used to randomly match multilingual children with speech and language concern (group 4, n = 109) to children in groups 1, 2, and 3 on gender, age, and family socio-economic position in a cross-sectional comparison of vocabulary, school readiness, and behavioral adjustment. Next, analyses were applied to the whole sample to determine longitudinal effects of group membership on teachers’ ratings of literacy, numeracy, and behavioral adjustment at ages 6 to 7 and 8 to 9 years. At 4 to 5 years, multilingual children with speech and language concern did equally well or better than English-only children (with or without speech and language concern) on school readiness tests but performed more poorly on measures of English vocabulary and behavior. At ages 6 to 7 and 8 to 9, the early gap between English-only and multilingual children had closed. Multilingualism was not found to contribute to differences in literacy and numeracy outcomes at school; instead, outcomes were more related to concerns about children’s speech and language in early childhood. There were no group differences for socio-emotional outcomes. Early evidence for the combined risks of multilingualism plus speech and language concern was not upheld into the school years.

Congratulations Graham

My colleague (and office next-door-neighbour) Dr Graham Daniel  was awarded the Faculty of Education research excellence award this week. Congratulations Graham! We currently have a paper under review in a journal, so his trajectory continues. Here is his citation:
Dr Daniel has—throughout his time at CSU—been an outstanding and committed teacher. In the last two years, he has developed a powerful research trajectory that has investigated the impact of neo-liberalism on all levels of learning. Graham’s provocative research projects exploring parental involvement in schools, alongside a profound care for pre-service teacher education students who are often the first in family to attend university, have enhanced, performed and displayed the key commitments of the School of Teacher Education, and CSU more generally.

Acting Dean of Education, Philip Hider with Dr Graham Daniel