December 29, 2014

Phonetic variations and sound changes in Hong Kong Cantonese

The following paper has been accepted for publication:
To, C. K. -S., McLeod, S. & Cheung, P. S. -P. (2014, in press December). Phonetic variations and sound changes in Hong Kong Cantonese: Diachronic review, synchronic study, and implications for speech sound assessments. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics.
 Here is the abstract:

The aim of this paper was to describe phonetic variations and sound changes in Hong Kong Cantonese (HKC) in order to provide speech-language pathologists with information about acceptable variants of standard pronunciations for speech sound assessments. Study 1 examined the pattern of variations and changes based on past diachronic research and historical written records. Nine phonetic variations were found. Five in syllable-initial and syllabic contexts: (1)[n-]→[l-], (2)[ŋ-]Ø-, (3)Ø-→[ŋ-], (4)[kwɔ-]→[-], (5)syllabic [ŋ̍]→[]; and four in syllable-final contexts: (6)[-ŋ]→[-n], (7)[-n]→[-ŋ], (8)[-k]→[-t], (9)[-t]→[-k]. Historical records demonstrated the pattern of variation and changes in HKC across time. In study 2, a large-scale synchronic study of speakers of differing ages was undertaken to determine acceptable phonetic variations of HKC for speech sound assessments. In the synchronic study single-words were elicited from 138 children (10;8-12;4) and 112 adults (18-45 years) who spoke Cantonese and lived in Hong Kong. Synchronic evidence demonstrated five acceptable variants in syllable-initial and syllabic contexts: (1) [n-]→[l-], (2) [ŋ-]→Ø-, (3) Ø-→[ŋ-], (4) [kwɔ-]→[-], and (5) syllabic [ŋ̍][] and four incomplete sound changes in syllable-final contexts: (6) [-ŋ]→[-n], (7) [-n]→[-ŋ], (8) [-k]→[-t], and (9) [-t]→[-k]. The incomplete sound changes may still be accepted as variants in speech sound assessments unless related speech problems are indicated.

December 19, 2014

Sound Start Study 2014

The Sound Start Study has had another extremely productive year.
During 2014 the team have seen 585 children, with more than 60 being involved in all six different stages of the study:
  • Stage 1 = 585 children received screening assessments
  • Stage 2 = 144 children received diagnostic assessments
  • Stage 3 = 77 children received in-depth assessments
  • Stage 4 = 69 children were randomised to either the intervention or control groups
  • Stage 5 = 67 children received post-assessment 1
  • Stage 6 = 65 children received post-assessment 2
Thank you to Kate Crowe and Sarah Masso who have completed these assessments with all of the children and Charlotte Howland, our research assistant who has assisted with data entry.
The Sound Start Study chief investigators and principle investigators are: Sharynne McLeod, Elise Baker, Jane McCormack, Yvonne Wren, Sue Roulstone and the research has been funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant with support from the NSW Department of Education and Communities.

We have one more year of data collection to go, then can find out whether the Phoneme Factory Sound Sorter computer program is a successful intervention for children with phonologically-based speech sound disorders.
Sarah Masso, Mike Tom (Department of Education and Communities),
Kate Crowe, Charlotte Howland, Sharynne McLeod

December 15, 2014

Research assistants supremely enhance our productivity

This year I have had the pleasure of working with a team of research assistants on my many different projects. Each brought a unique set of skills and expertise that supremely enhanced the productivity of our team. THANK YOU everyone!
  • Charlotte Howland - primarily worked on data entry for the Sound Start Study + International Speech Screen
  • Tamara Cumming - primarily worked on qualitative interviews and analysis for the Sound Start Study
  • Felicity McKellar - primarily worked on preparing book manuscripts and journal articles
  • Sarah Verdon - primarily worked on data analysis and co-authoring of journal articles
  • Kate Crowe - primarily worked on database searching, data entry, analysis and co-authoring of journal articles

December 13, 2014

Collaboration with the Trinh Foundation to support Vietnamese speech therapy

Professor Lindy McAllister is a Director of the Trinh Foundation and is working to develop the speech therapy profession in Vietnam. Lindy was instrumental in Ben Pham moving from Hanoi, Vietnam to CSU, Bathurst to study her PhD with me. On the weekend Lindy, Ben, and I were able to meet and talk about this fantastic partnership. Since beginning in July, Ben has worked very hard on her PhD. Already she has had a poster presentation accepted at a national conference in 2015 and is ready to submit her first English-language journal article to a journal.
Ninh Dang Vu, Ben Pham, Lindy McAllister, Sharynne McLeod

December 12, 2014

PhD, postdoc, and honours community of scholars meeting in Bathurst

On 11 and 12 December I hosted a meeting for my PhD, postdoc and honours students at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. Each student presented their current work, shared their publications and CVs, and received feedback from their colleagues. We also had sessions on preparing your CV, selecting journals and conferences, and definitions of a research-active academic. Bruce Andrews from CSU Media talked about how to talk to the media and Lisa McLean from the Faculty Research Office joined the conversation about using social media to enhance your research. During the time we welcomed our newest PhD student, Helen Blake. It was a wonderful two days of collaboration.
L-R: Lisa McLean, Helen Blake, Ben Pham, Sarah Masso, Charlotte Howland,
Sharynne McLeod, Sarah Verdon, Kate Crowe, Bruce Andrews
Ben Pham presenting her PhD journey so far

December 11, 2014

Embracing diversity, creating equality: Research seminar presentation

Sarah Verdon with her PhD supervisors:
Sharynne and Sandie Wong
Today Sarah Verdon presented a summary of her PhD findings at the School of Teacher Education Research and Scholarship Brown Bag Seminar Series. Here is the title and abstract: 
Embracing diversity, creating equality: Supporting culturally and linguistically diverse children 
Effective communication is essential for social engagement, educational attainment and workforce participation. Australia, like many other English-dominant nations is becoming increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse. Therefore, an understanding of this diversity is essential for planning services to support all Australian children to become competent and effective communicators in ways that are responsive to their cultural and linguistic background. This presentation will describe of the findings of a mixed methods PhD thesis conducted in two parts. The findings of part 1 indicate that approximately 15.3% of 5,107 Australian children in a nationally representative study do not speak English at the age of formal school commencement. Australian children from both migrant and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds are linguistically diverse with some children learning up to 6 languages (Verdon & McLeod, 2014; Verdon McLeod, & Winsler, 2014a). The social and academic benefits of being multilingual are well documented and this research highlights the importance of balancing the development of children’s home languages and culture with the development of English for participation at school. Factors associated with home language maintenance among young Australian multilingual children included parental use of the language at home, the number of generations since migrations, type of child care, and the level of support and understanding from teachers and educational environments (Verdon, McLeod & Winsler 2014b). A mismatch was identified between the languages spoken by Australian children and the languages in which support services for speech, language and communication development were offered (Verdon, McLeod & McDonald, 2014).Part 2 of this research drew upon international expert opinion to identify aspirations and recommendations for supporting the speech, language and communication needs of culturally and linguistically diverse children (Verdon, McLeod & Wong, 2014). The realisation of these aspirations and recommendations were then examined through ethnographic observation of professional practice in 14 international sites in Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, and the US identified as working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations (Verdon, 2014). This presentation will share the findings of this research which advocate for culturally appropriate, high quality, and equitable services for all children and identify approaches to practice that facilitating lifelong participation in educational, employment and social contexts.

December 5, 2014

Deputy convenor of the CSU Professorial Forum

Today at the Charles Sturt University Professorial Forum I was appointed Deputy Convenor for 2015. The Professorial Forum addresses issues of teaching, research, service, and mentoring across the university and beyond. It meets 3 times per year and provides advice to Academic Senate and each meeting invites key members of the university to participate in the discussions.

Here is the description of the Professorial Forum from the CSU website:
Membership of this forum is for all Professors of the University (Level E Academic Appointments), excluding the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellors. The Professors meet annually in July with the University Council.
  • To provide advice and advocacy to the University on academic and strategic matters concerning the conduct and development of teaching and post-graduate supervision, research, and community and professional service;
  • To be a source of professorial nominees to serve on various University bodies including: Academic Senate; University Research and Management Committee; and selections and promotions to academic Level D and E positions;
  • To act as a collegial forum for Professors of the University; and
  • To advise on or participate in programs of professional development relevant to the exercise of academic leadership by Professors in the University

RIPPLE newsletter profiles speech and language research and students

Charles Sturt University's Research Institute of Professional Practice Learning and Education (RIPPLE) has just published their latest newsletter called the RIPPLE EFFECT.
The newsletter includes  lots of articles about our speech and language research, and achievements by our students. It also includes a profile of Ben Pham as our newest speech and language PhD student.

December 4, 2014

Endeavour Scholarship and Fellowship Dinner

Last night Suzanne Hopf was awarded her Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship at the awards dinner held at the National Gallery in Canberra. During the night we learned that there were over 4,100 applicants for the awards in 2014 and there were only 27 Australian recipients within Suzanne's category. At our table we dined with the Secretary of the Fiji High Commission and the Managing Director of the company that coordinates the Endeavour Awards. The Endeavour Research Fellowship winners (including my other PhD student Sarah Verdon) were celebrated, but not part of the dinner. More details about Suzanne and Sarah's awards are here.The Endeavour Bulletin (Dec 2014) included Suzanne's photo here.
Suzanne receiving her award
Suzanne surrounded by her proud supervisor and proud mother at the National Gallery!

November 25, 2014

ASHA 2015

ASHA 2014 has just finished, but we have already been planning ASHA 2015. I have been invited to co-chair the Cultural and Linguistic Considerations Across the Discipline committee again for 2015, so while in Florida I met my co-chair, Mirza Lugo and next year's conference chairs (Julie Noel and Jeanane Ferre) to finalize our committee, plan for invited speakers, and organize reviewing of submissions.
Sharynne, Julie Noel, Jeanane Ferra, Mirza Lugo

Jamaican children's speech and language research continues

At the ASHA convention, I co-authored two presentations about our research in Jamaica
  • Washington, K. N., McLeod, S., McFarland, A., Weisbarth, J. (2014).  Jamaican Creole-speaking children’s expressive language, emergent literacy & communicative-participation: SLP, parent, and teacher evaluations. Technical paper.
  • Weisbath, J., Washington, K. N., McLeod, S., Samms-Vaughan, M., & Devonish, H. (2014, November). Print concept development in English: Comparing Jamaican preschoolers to US ELL and monolingual English-speaking preschoolers. Poster. 
 After the ASHA convention, Karla Washington and I met to plan grants, papers, and data analysis.
Sharynne, Karla Washington and Jamie Weisbath
Karla and Sharynne meeting after the ASHA convention

ASHA: Harry Belafonte, Annie and John Glenn, the Geists, and Harry Potter World

The ASHA convention is the biggest speech pathology convention in the world. This year over 12,000 people attended. It also involves big names, and big events. Here are some of the events that occurred this year:
  • Opening speakers: Harry Belafonte (singer), his daughter and granddaughter 
  • Awards: Annie and John Glenn (astronaut and senator)
  • Awardees: Bill and Willie Geist (Today Show host)(see mention on the Today Show 8 minutes into this clip
  • Closing party: Harry Potter World
At Harry Potter World: Lynn Williams (ASHA convenor), Hogwarts train conductor, Sharynne, Elise Baker

Combining PROPH+ and PHON

Sarah Masso and I have been collaborating with Yvan Rose and Brian MacWhinney to to create a computerized speech analysis system that is useful for speech pathologists by combining the features of PROPH+ with PHON. We used the time at ASHA to advance the project further.
Sharynne with Brian MacWhinney

Friends and collaborators at the ASHA convention in Florida

One of the best parts of attending the American Speech-Language-Hearing Convention each year is meeting up with friends and collaborators. We do a lot of work throughout the year on email - but lots more gets done face-to-face. Here are a few people I enjoyed speaking with this year.
ABOVE: Brian Goldstein (US), Lemmietta McNeilly (ASHA), Sharynne

BELOW: Larry Shriberg, Gregg Loff, Sharynne, Peter Flipsen
Françoise Brosseau-Lapré (US), Arlene Pietranton (CEO, ASHA), Gina Olwoch (ASHA), Sharynne
Sharynne, Carol To (Hong Kong), Elise Baker (Australia)

Bilingual SLI assessments - European Union project presented at ASHA

One of the invited sessions at ASHA was
"A European Union project to develop assessments for language impairments in multilingual societies". It was presented by:
  • Sharon Armon-Lotem (Israel)
  • Seyhun Topbas (Turkey)
  • Helen Grech (Malta)
  • Carol Westby (US)
Here is the abstract:
This session was developed by the Convention Program Committee to share outcomes of the COST/ IS0804 EU networking and collaboration project from 30 countries conducted to develop assessments for mono/bilingual children with SLI. We will address the work carried out which shed light on the problem of identifying minority populations.
The website for the Bi-SLI project is
Carol Westby (US), Sharon Armon-Lotem (Israel), Seyhun Topbas (Turkey), Helen Grech (Malta)