February 1, 2017

Digital tools to support children’s speech and language skill

The following book chapter has been accepted for publication. It is based on work from the Sound Start Study.
Wren, Y., McCormack, J., Masso, S., McLeod, S., Baker, E. & Crowe, K. (in press). Digital tools to support children’s speech and language skill. In S. Danby, M. Fleer, C. Davidson & M. Hatzigianni (Eds). Digital childhoods: Technologies in children’s everyday lives. Dordrecht, Germany: Springer.
Here is the abstract
Most children develop speech and language with ease and quickly become sophisticated communicators. For some children however, these skills are acquired with difficulty and extra support is required. A range of digital tools are available to assist with this: some of these are based on theories of speech and language acquisition while others have been developed in response to market demands. Few empirical studies of digital tools for speech and language development have been carried out though some success has been noted when facilitated by a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Given the interactional capabilities of digital tools, it would be helpful to identify whether they could achieve similar results independent of SLP support. One such tool, Phoneme Factory Sound Sorter®, was tested in a randomised controlled trial with early childhood educators delivering the intervention. Improvement in speech production varied across both groups and significant differences were not observed. However, supplementary investigations found that parents’ and educators’ were positive towards the use of digital tools and findings relating to the implementation of the intervention have been identified, which provide useful information for settings looking to use digital tools to promote speech and language skills in children.