February 18, 2014

September 2013 - February 2014 SUMMARY

‘Speaking my language: International speech acquisition in Australia’

Written by Kim Woodland, Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education for the RIPPLE Update

We now entering our final year of reporting on Sharynne McLeod’s productive and busy ARC Future Fellowship on international speech acquisition in Australia. Sharynne’s blog, Speaking my languages, continues to track her progress so please check in for regular updates.

As Sharynne said in a summary post in December: “The most important test of this work is the difference this makes in the lives of children with speech and language difficulties”. The importance of the work was also reiterated by an international reviewer of one of Sharynne’s papers: “To my mind, two of the most important tasks for the profession of speech-language in this century are the development of assessments for use with multilingual children and children whose first language is not English and fostering clinician’s awareness of them”.

In mid-November 2013, Sharynne, Sarah Verdon and Kate Crowe attended the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention in Chicago, along with 15,000 other delegates, the largest ASHA Convention on record. While at the convention, Sharynne presented 6.5 hours of technical reports and seminars including a 3-hour short course, along with co-presenting papers with Sarah and Kate. Many of the international researchers Sharynne works with and who she has written about on her blog also attended, providing an excellent opportunity to meet and collaborate. 

Sharynne and her team continue to work on this goal and the impact of their work is making a positive and growing difference in the lives of children with speech difficulties and their families. The Multilingual Children’s Speech website which was created as part of the Fellowship had received over 20,000 visits by the end of November 2013 from many countries. New information and resources continue to be added.

A major focus for Sharynne and her team in 2014 is the ARC Sound Start project, which commenced last year. The project is in the data collection phase and by the time the intervention (an innovative program to promote speech and pre-literacy skills in at-risk preschoolers) is over, the participating children will have been assessed twice to determine the outcome of the speech intervention. More children will be included in the project in 2014 and 2015.

After ten years, Sharynne also concludes her position as editor of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, handing over to A/Prof Kirrie Ballard, another ARC Future Fellowship holder.

We look forward to following Sharynne’s work again in 2014.