July 30, 2019

Just published

The following manuscript has just been published with volume and page numbers (after being published online in February 2017). It forms part of Helen Blake's PhD.
Blake, H. L., Bennetts Kneebone, L., & McLeod, S. (2019). The impact of oral English proficiency on humanitarian migrants’ experiences of settling in Australia. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 22(6), 689-705. doi:10.1080/13670050.2017.1294557

Free download (50 copies):

Here is my short summary for Twitter:
Oral English proficiency was the largest predictor of self-sufficiency (get a job, get help in emergency) (explaining 21% of variance) followed by age, gender, education, and time since arrival.
Here is the abstract
Key drivers for migrants’ social integration are education, employment, and skills in the dominant language of the settlement country. Data from Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants were used to examine migrants’ English proficiency and how oral English proficiency facilitated or hindered participation in activities that may help them become self-sufficient and settle. Participants were 2399 humanitarian migrants interviewed in the first wave of data collection (during 2013/14). Before arrival in Australia, 80.1% reported they spoke English not well or not at all. After arrival, oral English proficiency was a statistically significant predictor of self-sufficiency (knowing how to look for a job, get help in an emergency, etc.) explaining 21% of the variance while controlling for confounding variables such as age and education. After English proficiency, age (neither too young nor too old), gender (male), education (more than 12 years), and time since arrival (more than one year) were significant predictors of self-sufficiency. Identification of factors that predict self-sufficiency informs the understanding of people who provide support for humanitarian migrants. These findings indicate poor oral English skills may profoundly hinder humanitarian migrants’ ability to settle and highlight the importance of supporting migrants’ English learning.

Publishing advice for researchers from developing and non–English-speaking countries

I have just discovered this interesting chapter (and book) (via Twitter) that is free to download:

Stenius, K., Kerr-Corrêa, F., Obot, I., Furtado, E. F., Lima, M. C. P., & Babor, T. F. (2017). Beyond the Anglo-American world: Advice for researchers from developing and non–English-speaking countries. In T. F. Babor, K. Stenius, R. Pates, M. Miovský, J. O’Reilly, & P. Candon (Eds.), Publishing addiction science: A guide for the perplexed (pp. 71–88). London: Ubiquity Press. https://doi.org/10.5334/bbd.d.

It concludes:
In this chapter we have pictured the unique challenges faced by addiction scientists who work outside the cultural and linguistic mainstream. It will take a great deal of skill, persistence, and courage to get to the top of your field. But the rewards awaiting you at the summit may be that much greater, because you will have acquired the skill to read the map and orient yourself both in your country of origin and in the world that lies beyond (p. 85).

Providing feedback to students

A large part of my working week includes providing feedback to research students (honours, PhD, postdocs) - and I really enjoy this aspect of my work. Yesterday, I think we achieved a record. Nicole McGill's PhD supervisory team live in Australia, Iceland and Fiji. Yesterday, all three of us returned revisions to Nicole within 5.5 hours of her sending a paper/chapter to us (sent 3:37pm to 8:57pm Australian time)! That's how to get PhDs submitted in a timely manner.

July 25, 2019

Medicare Benefits Schedule Review

Today I spent time providing advice for the definition of "speech sound disorders" for the Australian Medicare Benefits Schedule Review. Important work!

July 24, 2019

New grant: "StoryBabies: Reading with multilingual babies and young children"

Congratulations Dr Michelle Brown who has been awarded a Forest Hill Grant from the The Foundation of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies titled: "StoryBabies: Reading with multilingual babies and young children". This is going to be a very useful grant.

Here is the description
Literacy difficulties have lifelong implications for academic achievement, employment, mental health, and quality of life. Early storybook reading (ESR) is considered one of the most effective methods early childhood educators (ECE) and parents can engage in to strengthen language development to establish a solid foundation for children’s later literacy success. While it is widely accepted that reading is important with babies and young children, much of the information available to early childhood educators (ECE) and parents on ESR is anecdotal and not based on empirical evidence that has demonstrated that the recommended strategies support language development. Moreover, there is limited information for multilingual families and access to services may be a barrier for families who live in regional/remote areas. This project, StoryBabies: Reading with multilingual babies and young children, aims to empower ECE and families across Australia and abroad, who work with multilingual families by providing an ESR intervention through two video recorded workshops. These workshops will include families from two different languages (such as Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese, Italian, and Mandarin) and will be based on an ESR intervention that was previously found to be effective (Brown, Westerveld, Trembath, & Gillon, 2018). Innovation will be demonstrated by focusing on multilingual families and supporting access to ECE and families who live in regional/remote locations. These two ESR workshops will include information and video recorded demonstrations of reading with multilingual babies and young children. StoryBabies will be freely available to ECE and families through a public website such as The Multilingual Children’s website created by Professor Sharynne McLeod.
Aims and objectives of the project: StoryBabies: Reading with multilingual babies and young children aims to equip early childhood educators and families with information and video demonstrations of how to strengthen language development with multilingual babies and young children, through early storybook reading. StoryBabies also aims to support early childhood educators and families with access to this freely available, evidence based resource regardless of their location.
Dr Michelle Brown with Prof Sharynne McLeod (post doc supervisor) and Prof Gail Gillon (PhD supervisor) who have supported her research into early storybook reading

July 22, 2019

VietSpeech Study 2 data meeting

Today Kate Margetson, Van Tran and I had a very productive VietSpeech meeting in Sydney. Kate and Van have begun assessing the speech of children and their parents (+ other adults who live in the children's homes). Each participant has been assessed in Vietnamese and English. We aim to provide the first data regarding Vietnamese-English speech acquisition and the influence of ambient phonology. We are very grateful to the families who have participated and plan to continue assessments throughout 2019.
Dr Van Tran, Sharynne, Kate Margetson

July 20, 2019

Congratulations Dr Ben Phạm on your significant publication about Vietnamese children's speech

Today Dr Ben Phạm's journal article was published in the Journal of Speech, Language, Hearing Research. The 26-page article is titled: Vietnamese-Speaking Children's Acquisition of Consonants, Semivowels, Vowels, and Tones in Northern Viet Nam. It is the most comprehensive study of Vietnamese children's speech ever undertaken, and longer than most JSLHR papers. It will influence the education and speech therapy professions in Viet Nam, as well as speech-language pathology practice throughout the world.
 Here are a series of summary tweets I just posted about Dr Phạm's work

Tweet 1:
Just published: First comprehensive study of Vietnamese-speaking children's acquisition of consonants, semivowels, vowels, and tones. Congratulations Dr Ben Phạm on your contribution to the education and speech therapy professions in Viet Nam @TrinhTFA https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-S-17-0405

Tweet 2:
Vietnamese-speaking 2-year-olds produce correctly: 46% consonants, 92% vowels, 91% tones; 5-year-olds: 93% consonants, 98% vowels, 96% tones. Most difficult: /ɲ, s, z, x/, tone 3 (creaky), tone 4 (dipping–rising). https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-S-17-0405

Tweet 3:
Vietnamese children (aged 2;0-5;11) were “usually” to “always” intelligible (4.43/5) on the Intelligibility in Context Scale. Scores differed by child age, parent speech and language concerns, occupation and education. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02699206.2017.1306110 http://www.csu.edu.au/research/multilingual-speech/ics

Tweet 4:
Western calendar age (tuổi tây) is different from Vietnamese age (tuổi ta) that is calculated by the lunar year and includes time in the womb. Children may be 1–2 years older using #Vietnamese age (Phạm & McLeod, 2019, p.6) https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-S-17-0405

Tweet 5:
Vietnamese pronunciation differs per dialect
Initial consonants: Standard=23, northern=20, central=23, southern=21
Final consonants: Standard=6, northern=10, central=10, southern=8
Tones: Standard=6, northern=6, central=5, southern=5

Here is the abstract:
Purpose The aim of this study was to investigate children's acquisition of Vietnamese speech sounds.
Method Participants were 195 children aged 2;2–5;11 (years;months) living in Northern Viet Nam who spoke Vietnamese as their 1st language. Single-word samples were collected using the Vietnamese Speech Assessment (Phạm, Le, & McLeod, 2016) to measure accuracy of consonants, semivowels, vowels, and tones.  
Results Percentage of consonants correct for children aged 2;0–2;5 was 46.39 (SD = 7.95) and increased to 93.13 (SD = 6.13) for children aged 5;6–5;11. The most difficult consonants were /ɲ, s, z, x/. Percentage of semivowels correct for children aged 2;0–2;5 was 70.74 (SD = 14.38) and increased to 99.60 (SD = 1.55) for children aged 5;6–5;11. Percentage of vowels correct for children aged 2;0–2;5 was 91.93 (SD = 3.13) and increased to 98.11 (SD = 2.79) for children aged 5;6–5;11. Percentage of tones correct for children aged 2;0–2;5 was 91.05 (SD = 1.42) and increased to 96.65 (SD = 3.42) for children aged 5;6–5;11. Tones 1, 2, 5, and 6 were acquired by the youngest age group, whereas Tone 3 (creaky thanh ngã) and Tone 4 (dipping–rising thanh hỏi) did not achieve 90% accuracy by the oldest age group. Common phonological patterns (> 10%) were fronting, stopping, deaspiration, aspiration, and semivowel deletion for children aged 2;0–3;11 and were fronting and deaspiration for children aged 4;0–5;11.  
Conclusion This is the 1st comprehensive study of typically developing Northern Vietnamese children's speech acquisition and provides preliminary data to support the emerging speech-language pathology profession in Viet Nam.

July 19, 2019

Macquarie Infants and Toddlers Conference

This week is the Third Infants and Toddlers Conference at Macquarie University in Sydney. Anna Cronin (my PhD student) and Dr Michelle Brown (my postdoc) are attending. Michelle is presenting  "Reading during infancy strengthens academic achievement" (Brown, Wang & McLeod) at the conference.  Here is her abstract
Reading books is an important activity that early childhood educators and parents can undertake to promote early communication development. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have the right to “freedom of expression” (Article 13) and “development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential” (Article 29). To support children reaching their fullest potential, the present study examined the long-term benefits for language and literacy achievement in Grades 3 and 5 from book-reading at 1-2 years. Participants were 3547 infants and their caregivers from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. The relationship between the number of minutes per day caregivers reported reading with their infant and the child’s language and literacy subtests from the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) in Grades 3 and 5 was examined, using a series of regression analyses. The duration of book reading at 1-2 years positively predicted language and literacy outcomes in Grades 3 and 5. This research provides evidence to support early childhood educators, parents, and clinicians to encourage daily book-reading with infants to strengthen later language and literacy achievement.
Dr Michelle Brown presenting her research
Michelle Brown and Anna Cronin on the first morning of the Infants and Toddlers Conference

July 17, 2019

Anna's PhD visit to Bathurst

Anna Cronin has spent a very productive week visiting me at the CSU Bathurst campus. We have worked on data analysis of the speech of children with cleft lip and palate (which would have been difficult to do at a distance), revisions to a book chapter on children's rights, and lots of other things. It is great for my students (who study at a distance) to immerse themselves into face-to-face university culture. Over 20 kangaroos greeted Anna at the CSU campus on Monday and Tuesday. It also was great that Anna was here to celebrate CSU's 30th birthday.

Charles Sturt University's Foundation Day activities and 30th birthday party

Today Charles Sturt University celebrated Foundation Day and the 30th birthday of the university. Celebrations included the Charles Sturt Excellence Awards, cake-cutting, commemorative tree-planting, and a 30th birthday party. This evening we continued the celebrations with birthday cake, hot chocolate and ice-skating at the Bathurst Regional Council Winter Festival. It was great that Anna could be on the Bathurst campus this week to celebrate (as well as to work with me on her PhD).

More details about the CSU events here: https://about.csu.edu.au/our-university/history/foundation-day.
Anna Cronin, Prof Sharynne McLeod and Dr Shukla Sikder celebrating CSU's 30th birthday with fairy bread
CSU's birthday cake on the Bathurst campus
Sharynne McLeod, Bruce Andrews (CSU Media), Anna Cronin, Lisa McLean wearing CSU beanies
CSU staff, students and families enjoying iceskating
Bathurst Winter Festival lights projected onto the courthouse

July 9, 2019

Dr Natalie Hegarty's PhD graduation

Congratulations Dr Natalie Hegarty on your PhD graduation at Ulster University this week. It was an honour to be on your supervisory team, along with Dr Jill Titterington and Dr Laurence Taggart.
Here are the blogposts from 2015 documenting some of Natalie's PhD journey: https://speakingmylanguages.blogspot.com/search?q=Natalie+Hegarty&max-results=20&by-date=true

Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) Conference

The Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) 2019 Conference was held in Melbourne 9-12 July. Dr Michelle Brown presented the following paper titled: "Reading with young children promotes literacy and language development nine years later"
Authors: Michelle Brown, Cen Wang, Sharynne McLeod

Here is the abstract
Background: It is widely accepted that book-reading ameliorates later literacy and language development, however researchers examining book-reading and later academic outcomes have reported inconclusive evidence. The present study addressed this gap in the literature by examining the long-term impact for literacy and language mastery from book-reading with young children.
Method: 3547 young children and their caregivers enrolled in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children participated. Using a series of analyses, the relationship between the number of minutes young children were read to per day and the children’s Grade 5 (10-11 years) literacy and language subtests from the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) was examined.
Results: The number of minutes young children were read to, positively predicted the children’s Grade 5 (10-11 years) NAPLAN literacy and language subtests. The relationship remained significant when controlling for demographic variables and cognitive abilities.
Conclusion: This study provides evidence with a relatively large sample that reading with young children for more than 10 minutes per day can promote literacy and language outcomes nine years later. Implications for teachers, educators, future research, and policy makers are considered with the goal of empowering teachers/educators to continue advocating for book-reading with young children.

July 5, 2019

The importance of families

In 2014 I wrote a blogpost about the importance of our families: https://speakingmylanguages.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-importance-of-our-families.html

As our SLM team continues to grow, our families continue to be our guiding lights, our grounding influences, our greatest supporters, and our priorities. Thank you to our wonderful families.

Here are a few photos from the past few weeks of the importance of our families.
Michelle, Kate M, and Sharynne with their children during a recent online meeting
Jess and Sharynne at the United Nations
Sarah and Sadie at the SPA conference

July 2, 2019

The EQUATOR Network and CONSORT statement

We are currently finishing writing a journal article about a randomised controlled trial. It is really helpful to have the following website to guide the design and writing of papers:

The EQUATOR Network | Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of Health Research http://www.equator-network.org/

We have used the CONSORT statement and flow diagram for our current research: http://www.equator-network.org/reporting-guidelines/consort/

July 1, 2019

Charles Sturt expert advocates at UN for communication rights

The Charles Sturt University media office has just released the following story:
Charles Sturt expert advocates at UN for communication rights