March 31, 2019

Aspirations for a website to support families’ active waiting for speech-language pathology

The following manuscript has been accepted for publication.
McGill, N. & McLeod, S. (2019, in press March). Aspirations for a website to support families’ active waiting for speech-language pathology. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.

It forms part of Nicole McGill's PhD and describes research undertaken as part of NSW Health Translational Research Grants Scheme grant "Waiting for Speech Pathology: Advice versus Device" awarded to Emily Davis, Sharynne McLeod, Katrina Rohr, Angela Roberts, Nicole McGill, and Katherine Miller. Congratulations!
Here is the abstract:
Purpose: Children sometimes wait 12 months or longer to access speech-language pathology services. Information on websites may support families’ active waiting for speech-language pathology; however, there are few user-friendly, evidence-based websites specifically designed for children and families for this purpose. The current study aimed to: (1) ascertain appropriate website content, format, features, and functions; (2) evaluate the quality of existing speech and language sites; and (3) obtain feedback on a prototype website.
Method: A 3-stage explanatory sequential mixed methods design was employed. Stage 1 involved 119 participants completing an online questionnaire recommending website content, format, features, and functions. Stage 2 involved evaluating the quality of 25 online sites about children’s speech and language. Stage 3 involved focus groups with 16 participants to explore aspirations and feedback on a website to support active waiting.
Result: Participants wanted information about strategies to stimulate children’s speech and language development, typical development, and services to access while waiting; simple web architecture, and high readability. High scoring sites contained evidence-based information from trustworthy sources. Strategies from the theory of preparative waiting arose in the focus groups (Giske & Gjengedal, 2007).
Conclusion: High-quality sites about children’s speech and language included easily identifiable, trustworthy sources of information. The theory of preparative waiting may be a viable framework informing waiting for speech-language pathology for children with speech and language difficulties.

March 30, 2019

Congratulations Kate C on your 2-year postdoc in Iceland

Dr Kate Crowe has just been offered a 2-year postdoctoral position at The University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands). They received a total of 99 applications and 10 postdocs were offered.

The title of her postdoc is "Improving Outcomes of Multilingual Children in Icelandic Preschools" and she will be working with Dr. Þóra Másdóttir (Thora Masdottir) and others in the speech therapy department. Here is her abstract.
Modern Iceland welcomes newcomers from many countries around the world, especially Poland and Lithuania. Consequently, an increasing percentage of children enrol in pre-primary education in Iceland with limited knowledge of Icelandic, experiencing delays in their Icelandic language skills compared to their monolingual peers. The impact of these delays can be seen in these children’s pre-primary education, formal schooling, and beyond. This postdoctoral study will conduct an efficacy cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate a promising educator-delivered intervention to improve the Icelandic vocabulary and language skills of 2- to 6-year-old-children in Iceland who come from homes where exposure to Icelandic is limited. The intervention will focus on the high-fidelity implementation of a researcher-developed curriculum involving interactive reading and language activity experiences using evidence-based techniques. This approach is anticipated to positively impact not only on the Icelandic skills of children who speak another language at home, but also on monolingual Icelandic-speaking children and children with speech and language delay/disorder. In the longer term, improving the linguistic and Icelandic skills of children in Iceland should provide cultural, economic, and social benefits for Iceland including increased multilingualism, social cohesion, and enhanced capacity to participate in a globalised economy. 
Congratulations Kate!
Jóhanna Thelma Einarsdóttir, Ewita Czap (University of Gdansk), Þóra Másdóttir, Þóra Sæunn Úlfsdóttir, Kathryn Crowe, and Kristelle Lou Suson Jónsdóttir at The University of Iceland

Why some Asian accents swap Ls and Rs in English

Why some Asian accents swap Ls and Rs in English is an excellent YouTube video created by Vox that has been uploaded this week: It has already had over 1 million views and 49K likes. At 2:40, they quote our speech acquisition norms: (McLeod & Crowe, 2018).

March 28, 2019

Congratulations Helen: PhD submission

Today Helen Blake submitted her PhD. The title was "English proficiency, intelligibility, and participation of multilingual speakers in Australia". I have been her supervisor and Dr Sarah Verdon has been her co-supervisor. Her PhD consists of 7 journal articles (5 are published), an encyclopedia entry, and an exegesis:
  1. Blake, H. L., & McLeod, S. (2018). The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: Considering individuals from a perspective of health and wellness. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 3(17), 69-77. doi:10.1044/persp3.SIG17.69 
  2. Blake, H. L., McLeod, S., Verdon, S., & Fuller, G. (2018). The relationship between spoken English proficiency and participation in higher education, employment and income from two Australian censuses. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20(2), 202-215. doi:10.1080/17549507.2016.1229031 
  3. Blake, H. L., Bennetts Kneebone, L., & McLeod, S. (2017). The impact of oral English proficiency on humanitarian migrants’ experiences of settling in Australia. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/13670050.2017.1294557 
  4. Blake, H. L., Verdon, S., & McLeod, S. (2019). Multilingual university students’ perceived English proficiency, intelligibility, and participation. 
  5. Blake, H. L., Verdon, S., & McLeod, S. (2019). Exploring multilingual speakers’ perspectives on their intelligibility in English. Speech, Language and Hearing, Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/2050571X.2019.1585681 
  6. Blake, H. L., & McLeod, S. (in press). Intelligibility enhancement. In  J. S. Damico & M. J. Ball (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopedia of human communication sciences and disorders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 
  7. Blake, H. L., & McLeod, S. (2019). Speech-language pathologists’ support for multilingual speakers’ English intelligibility and participation informed by the ICF. Journal of Communication Disorders, 77, 56-70. doi:10.1016/j.jcomdis.2018.12.003 
  8. Blake, H. L., McLeod, S., & Verdon, S. (2019). Intelligibility Enhancement assessment and intervention: A single-case experimental design with two multilingual university students. Manuscript in submission. 
The moment of Helen's thesis submission - surrounded by colleagues from UTS and CSU
Sharynne and Helen's celebratory dinner
Here is the abstract:
Proficiency in Spoken English has implications for the ability of multilingual speakers to participate in vocational, educational, and social activities in English-dominant countries. A key component of spoken language proficiency is intelligibility, a relative measure of how much of an individual’s speech is understood by their listener. This doctoral research aimed to investigate the relationship between multilingual speakers’ English proficiency, intelligibility, and participation in Australian society and provide insight into whether intelligibility enhancement is an effective intervention to improve English intelligibility in multilingual speakers. This doctoral research contains four parts presented as a series of eight publications; one encyclopaedia entry and seven journal articles. Part One provides an orientation to the thesis and includes a literature review (Paper 1) describing the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and its application to speech, language, and hearing. The ICF provided the theoretical framework for this research and ensured a holistic focus on participation.
Part Two (Papers 2 to 5) examines the participation of multilingual speakers in Australia from the perspective of their English proficiency and intelligibility. Paper 2 analysed data from over 19 million people in the 2006 and 2011 censuses to explore the relationship between spoken English proficiency and education, employment, and income. Multilingual residents who spoke English very well were more likely to have postgraduate qualifications, full-time employment and high income than monolingual English-speaking Australians. Paper 3 analysed data from Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants to examine 2,399 refugees’ English proficiency and how it facilitated or hindered self-sufficiency (e.g., knowing how to look for a job) and successful settlement in Australia. Oral English proficiency proved a statistically significant predictor of self-sufficiency, explaining 21% of the variance while controlling for confounding variables such as age and education. Paper 4 analysed survey data from 137 multilingual students enrolled at 14 Australian universities regarding perceptions of the impact of spoken English proficiency and intelligibility on participation, not only at university, but in society. While participants reported spoken English proficiency impacted participation, they indicated a lack of awareness of intelligibility influencing spoken language proficiency. The amount of time multilingual students had spent studying English had less effect on outcomes than the amount of time they had spent speaking English in conversations with native speakers. Paper 5 further explored university students’ perspectives of English intelligibility through qualitative analysis. Data included open-ended comments from the survey in Paper 4, as well as semi-structured interviews with six students and one faculty member from one university. Motivations for improving intelligibility were career aspirations and meeting their own and others’ expectations. Barriers to intelligible speech included lack of self-awareness of intelligibility and use of ineffective strategies (e.g., fast speech rate to disguise pronunciation difficulties). Facilitators of intelligible speech were support from others, beneficial strategies (e.g., confirming listener understanding), and opportunities to practice.
Part Three (Papers 6, 7, and 8) examines intelligibility enhancement, an intervention designed to improve English intelligibility in multilingual speakers. Paper 6 presented an overview of intelligibility enhancement. Paper 7 used a retrospective record review of 175 client records from a university clinic providing intelligibility enhancement to describe characteristics of multilingual speakers who sought support for English intelligibility. The results highlighted the broad range of factors contributing to multilingual speakers’ intelligibility in English (e.g., substitutions/deletions, speaking volume, and time spent using English in conversations). Paper 8 used a multiple-baseline single-case experimental design with two multilingual university students and demonstrated the effectiveness of the Intelligibility Enhancement Assessment and Intervention Protocols. Following intervention, both participants displayed increased performance across the speech/intelligibility instruments in the protocol.
Part Four of the thesis presents conclusions and contributions of this research. This research has shown that multilingual speakers: were successfully participating in Australian society, while also contributing to Australia’s economic and social prosperity; perceived a strong relationship between their English proficiency and their successful participation in society; lacked awareness of their intelligibility and its importance to their spoken language proficiency; valued intervention to support their intelligibility in English; and achieved positive outcomes after participating in intervention with an SLP using the Intelligibility Enhancement Assessment and Intervention Protocols (Blake, 2019a, 2019b). This doctoral research provides a new and significant contribution to knowledge of English proficiency, intelligibility, and participation in multilingual speakers in Australia. The findings provide insights for communities, universities, and individuals, as well as for SLPs who support multilingual speakers in intelligibility enhancement or other contexts of speech-language pathology in Australia and other language-dominant countries. . 

Congratulations Helen - it has been a privilege to work with you on this important topic. Best wishes for your examination.

March 27, 2019

The importance of co-supervisors

I love working in supervisory teams. Co-supervisors provide unique insights to the research process. They also provide knowledge and expertise that the supervisor does not have. Here are some of the supervisory teams I currently work within:
  • PhD student: Helen Blake. Supervisor: Sharynne McLeod. Co-supervisor: Sarah Verdon.
  • PhD student: Anna Cronin. Supervisor: Sharynne McLeod. Co-supervisor: Sarah Verdon.
  • PhD student: Nicole McGill. Supervisor: Sharynne McLeod. Co-supervisors: Kate Crowe, Suzanne Hopf.
  • PhD student: Van Tran. Supervisor: Sharynne McLeod. Co-supervisors: Sarah Verdon, Audrey Wang
  • PhD student (Ulster University, UK): Natalie Hegarty. Supervisor: Jill Titterington. Co-supervisors: Laurence Taggart, Sharynne McLeod.
  • PhD student (Utrecht University, The Netherlands): Anniek van Doornik. Supervisor: Ellen Gerritts. Co-supervisors: Hayo Terband, Sharynne McLeod. 
  • Honours student: Holly McAlister. Supervisor: Suzanne Hopf. Co-supervisor:  Sharynne McLeod. 

March 26, 2019

Intelligibility in Context Scale: UK Cleft Collective Cohort Studies

I have been invited to collaborate with researchers in the UK who are part of the Cleft Collective Cohort Studies, including Yvonne Wren, Miriam Seifert, and Amy Davies & Sharynne McLeod They are using the Intelligibility in Context Scale as a measure of children's speech. We are presenting the following conference paper next week:

Seifert, M., Wren, Y., Davies, A. & McLeod, S. (2019, April). Parents’ ratings of intelligibility in 3-year-olds with cleft lip and/or palate using the Intelligibility in Context Scale: Findings from the Cleft Collective Cohort Studies. Craniofacial Society of Great Britain and Ireland Conference, London, UK.

March 25, 2019

Measuring intelligibility in signed languages

The following manuscript has just been accepted for publication: Crowe, K., Marschark, M., & McLeod, S. (2019, in press March). Measuring intelligibility in signed languages. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics.
Here is the abstract:
Intelligibility of spoken languages is a widely discussed construct; however, intelligibility as it pertains to signed languages has rarely been considered. This study provides an initial investigation of the construct of intelligibility in American Sign Language (ASL) and evaluates potential measures for self-report and expert ratings of sign intelligibility that examined frequency of understanding, amount of understanding, and ease of understanding. Participants were 66 college students (42 Deaf, 24 hearing) who had self-rated ASL skills ranging from poor to excellent. Participants rated their own intelligibility in ASL and then provided a signed language sample through a picture description task. Language samples were reviewed by an expert rater and measures of intelligibility were completed. Results indicated that expert ratings of sign intelligibility across all measures were significantly and positively correlated. Understanding of the signer was predicted by amount of understanding, frequency of understanding, and ASL production skills, while understanding the picture being described was predicted by ease of understanding and ASL grammar skills. Self- and expert ratings of sign intelligibility using the ASL version of the Intelligibility in Context Scale were not significantly different. Self-report of sign intelligibility for viewers of different familiarity using the ICS-ASL was found not to be feasible due many participants not being in contact with ASL users in the relationships defined by the measure. In conclusion, this preliminary investigation suggests that sign intelligibility is a construct worthy of further investigation.
The research was supported by the Grant Development Funding Scheme from the Faculty of Arts and Education, Charles Sturt University and Kate was supported by an Australian-American Postdoctoral Fulbright Scholarship.

March 21, 2019

Curriculum vitae workshop #2

Today I ran another curriculum vitae writing workshop for academic staff in the School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University. It follows on from the one I ran for my SLM team a few weeks ago:

I enjoy enabling academics to use their CVs to envision future possibilities and goals.

March 20, 2019

Welcome Holly

Today was my first official meeting with Holly McAlister. She is an honours student in the School of Community Health at Charles Sturt University. Her primary supervisor is Dr Suzanne Hopf and I am her co-supervisor. Her topic is "English speech sound development in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Fijian children and the implications for speech pathology practice". Our meeting was held via CSU webconferencing from Fiji, Albury and Bathurst. Holly shared these useful critical appraisal tools from the Joanna Briggs Institute: I am very pleased to be working with Holly and Suzanne (and love learning from my students).
Holly McAlister (with Dr Suzanne Hopf and Sharynne)

March 19, 2019

Language proficiency, use, and maintenance among people with Vietnamese heritage living in Australia

The following manuscript has just been accepted for publication in the first issue of a new journal:

McLeod, S., Verdon, S., Wang, C., & Tran, V. H. (2019, in press March). Language proficiency, use, and maintenance among people with Vietnamese heritage living in Australia. Journal of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech.

The paper is based on data from Study 1 of our VietSpeech grant funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP).

Here is the abstract:
Multilingualism provides cultural, economic and social benefits to individuals and societies. A large number of people with Vietnamese heritage have migrated to English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, and the US. This study describes language proficiency, use, and maintenance of 271 adults with Vietnamese heritage living across Australia. The majority were first generation immigrants (76.6%), spoke Vietnamese as their first language (94.3%), and indicated Vietnamese was their most proficient language (78.5%). The majority were more likely to use Vietnamese (than English) with their mother, father, older siblings, Vietnamese-speaking grandparents, relatives in Vietnam, and Vietnamese friends. They used English and Vietnamese with their partners, children, younger siblings, and English-speaking grandparents. They were more likely to speak English when working, studying, and watching TV, but used English and Vietnamese equally on social media. The most important reasons for maintaining Vietnamese were: maintaining bonds with relatives, maintaining Vietnamese cultural identity, and building friendships.

Framing our work (and lives) around the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health

Our Speech-Language-Multilingualism team use the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF, World Health Organization, 2001) and the children and youth version (ICF-CY, WHO, 2007) as the framework for most of our work. It enables us to think  holistically about the lives of the children, families, and professionals we work with. It also enables us to enjoy and participate in all aspects of our own lives (not just work).

Recently, Anna Cronin has been using the ICF-CY as the framework for her PhD study undertaking a comprehensive content analysis of the transcripts of conversations with experts who work with young children with cleft lip and palate. She visited these experts around the world as part of her Churchill Fellowship. There have been some surprising insights using the ICF-CY. For example, e210 Physical geography and e2151 Population density were frequently discussed as a in relation to the impact of access to specialist services for these children.
Anna Cronin

March 18, 2019

Nomination for the Prime Minister’s Life Scientist of the Year Prize

Congratulations to Dr Sarah Verdon who has been nominated for the national Prime Minister’s Life Scientist of the Year Prize.
CSU's news story is here:
Dr Sarah Verdon

March 16, 2019

New book chapter

The following chapter is about to be published (we are finalising the page proofs):

McLeod, S. & Masso, S. (2019). Speech sound disorders in children. In J. S. Horst & J. von Koss Torkildsen (Eds.). International handbook of language development (pp. 362-386). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

It was an honour to be invited to write for this prestigious publication.  Other authors in the volume include: Eve V. Clark, Marilyn Vihman, Fred Genesee, Courtenay F. Norbury, J. Bruce Tomblin, Teresa Y. C. Ching, and Linda Cupples.

March 15, 2019

VietSpeech planning meeting

This week Dr Van Tran, Kate Margetson and I met to plan Study 2 of our VietSpeech grant where we are researching Australian Vietnamese-English-speaking children’s speech acquisition in Vietnamese and English.
Van Tran, Sharynne and Kate Margetson using the VSA and DEAP speech assessments

March 14, 2019

Congratulations Dr Natalie Hegarty

This week Natalie Hegarty completed her PhD viva and passed with minor changes. She undertook her PhD at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Natalie and the other members of her PhD supervisory team (Dr Jill Titterington and Dr Laurence Taggart) over the past few years. We had a virtual celebration via Skype this week. Here are the blogposts I have written during her PhD journey:
Congratulations Dr Hegarty!

Meetings with Helen to support her PhD submission

Helen Blake is very close to submitting her PhD. Helen is an associate lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney. This week I worked with Helen in Sydney finalising her chapters so that her thesis will be ready for submission by the end of the month. Her PhD is titled "English proficiency, intelligibility, and participation of multilingual speakers in Australia" and consists of an exegesis, encyclopedia entry and eight journal articles!
Helen Blake and Sharynne McLeod at UTS

March 13, 2019

Thank you to my early career mentors

This week I had the opportunity to say thank you to two of my early career mentors: Joan Rosenthal and Mark Onslow. Joan and Mark were my lecturers for my undergraduate degree at Cumberland College of Health Sciences (later The University of Sydney). Joan taught me phonetics and clinical education. She was my masters' thesis supervisor where she taught me how to think, write, use APA formatting and play Scrabble. Mark taught me stuttering, clinical processes, and later when I worked at The University of Sydney I worked with him to establish the honours program in speech pathology.  They continue to inspire me.
Joan Rosenthal and Sharynne
Prof Mark Onslow and Sharynne at the Australian Stuttering Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney

March 12, 2019

Adjunct Professor at University of Technology Sydney

I have been appointed as an Adjunct Professor at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in the Graduate School of Health and the Speech Pathology program. This week I visited UTS and had the opportunity to meet the staff and masters students.
I was invited to teach the speech sound disorders class on Articulatory Foundations of Speech (based on chapter 3 of Children's Speech). What an enthusiastic and keen group of students - it was a joy to meet everyone.
UTS Speech Pathology Staff
Back: Helen Blake, Melissa Brunner, Catherine Gregory, Harmony Turnbull
Front: Lucy Bryant, Ben, Sharynne McLeod, Bronwyn Hemsley

March 11, 2019

Functional Word Lists for Indigenous Languages of the South Pacific: QUOTA Scholarship

Congratulations Dr Suzanne Hopf who has just received a QUOTA South Pacific Area Scholarship for Work in the Fields of Speech and Hearing. Her research grant is titled "Functional Word Lists for Indigenous Languages of the South Pacific"
Here is the abstract:
Communication specialists rely on data that document children’s typical speech and language development when diagnosing and treating speech and language disorders in children. In many South Pacific nations there are no recognised communication specialists or recognised tools to assist with this process (e.g., Fiji – see Hopf, 2013; 2017). Thus, suspected diagnoses are mostly based on implicit language knowledge within communities. Tools that can assist with early diagnosis and treatment of communication disability are needed to support communication specialists working with children from language groups other than their own. In alignment with the aims of the 2019 UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019), this ambitious project will bring together speakers of Pacific Islands indigenous languages, and communication specialists from around the world, to create consensus functional word lists for indigenous languages of the South Pacific nations of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu. Significantly, this project will capitalise on a network of communication specialists who will work together beyond the stated languages to continue to document functional word lists in all of the indigenous and immigrant languages of the South Pacific. These word lists will be invaluable for communication specialists working both within and outside the South Pacific with people with communication disability who speak these languages.

March 9, 2019

Children with speech sound disorders at school: Challenges for children, parents and teachers

The following article has been downloaded 5258 times in the past 2 years!

Daniel, G. R. & McLeod, S. (2017). Children with speech sound disorders at school: Challenges for children, parents and teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 42(2), 81-101. Retrieved from

The readership distribution is shown here:


March 8, 2019

International women's day

I am fortunate to work with incredible women across the world. On international women's day I spent time celebrating and sharing with some exceptional women in Bathurst from the fields of speech-language pathology, nursing and early childhood education.
Sharynne and Nicole McGill in the Begonia House, Machattie Park, Bathurst
Professor Linda Sheilds and Sharynne
Dr Tamara Cumming
Did you know that speech-language pathology professional associations in Australia, US and UK are approximately 97% women?

March 7, 2019

Nicole's statistical visit

This week Nicole McGill has been in Bathurst to work on statistics associated with her PhD research about waiting for speech pathology services. She had the opportunity to work closely with Dr Audrey Wang using SPSS and to translate this into writing journal articles. Her visit was funded by a Speech Pathology Australia Nadia Verrall Memorial Research Grant.
Nicole and Audrey working on SPSS
Nicole, Sharynne, and Audrey discussing variables and outliers in the research data

March 6, 2019

NSW Health Translational Research Grant team meeting

Today our NSW Health Translational Research Grant team met in Orange to begin writing our conference poster and journal article. We are almost finished collecting the data for our randomised controlled trial comparing advice, device, and therapy for children on speech pathology waiting lists. We spent a lot of time using the CONSORT statement to describe our sample, and prepare for writing. It was a very productive day.

Sharynne McLeod, Angela Roberts, Emily Davis, Sally Thornton, Nina Ahio, Kate Miller, Katrina Rohr, Nicole McGill
Sharynne, Nicole, Emily, Kate, Angela, Sally, Katrina, and Nina hard at work