Saturday 31 December 2011

How can I help my Toddler Talk?

Surprising research tells us that in some areas of the UK, over half of the children going into school don’t have the communication skills they need to learn, make friends and succeed. There are many theories why this is the case. One thing is for sure, toddlers need help to learn to talk. Much of this help comes from a close, trusted adult who responds to their attempts to communicate and who provides a stimulating environment for them to learn in. Our Smart Talkers Pre-School communication groups are designed to help by using games, puppets, stories and songs to work on the essential pre-requisites for healthy communication. We offer advice for activities to do at home and how the child's everyday activities can be excellent opportunities for language development. But what if there isn't a group near you? Check out this excellent publication from ICAN priced at £12.99

Revised and bolder than before, Toddler Talk is a beautifully illustrated activity pack to promote communication development of toddlers from 18 months to 3 years old that now comes in a paperback and hardback edition.
Toddler Talk includes 35 inspiring activities on durable cards for parents and other adults to play with the toddler to develop the toddler's communication skills. The activities have been developed by practitioners with specialist experience in developing communication with under threes. The activities are focused on the following five areas:
  1. Attention and Listening
  2. Understanding what is said
  3. Learning and using new words
  4. Building sentences
  5. Talking socially
Toddlers need the space and time to process sounds and to learn what they mean. Eventually, words build into sentences, into mini-conversations and this means that children will be able to get the best of their new learning environments.ISBN: (978-1-908173-02-7)

Saturday 24 December 2011

Communication consortium expresses concern about Phonics Screening Check

The Communication Trust, a consortium of nearly 50 leading voluntary sector organisations specialising in speech, language and communication in children and young people, has expressed its concern over plans to roll out the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check. The results from the first round of screening were published recently   by the Department for  Education.  The Phonics Screening Check is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether pupils have learned phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. It also identifies children who need extra help so they can receive extra support to improve their reading skills. They can then retake the check so schools can track them until they can decode. But independent evaluation undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University showed most teachers still had difficulties in judging whether a word was read correctly, including in children who were good readers but had speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). Anita Kerwin-Nye, director of The Communication Trust, said: “We fully support the Government’s ambition to improve literacy standards in English schools, and welcome the Department for Education’s support for communication, language and literacy in the Early 
Years Foundation stage. “However we are very concerned about the impact the Year 1 Phonics Screen, and the wider emphasis on phonics, on children with speech, language and communication needs. 

This concern is backed up by the findings of the evaluation carried out by Sheffield Hallam University. This showed that nearly 29 per cent of schools felt the experience of the Phonics Screening Check was negative for children with SLCN and that only 35 per cent felt the check accurately assessed the decoding abilities of children with speech difficulties. “These figures alone suggest significant changes need to be made to the way the Screen is implemented and I have urgently requested a meeting with Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State 
for Education to discuss the precise details. Phonics is a valid approach to teaching reading but it is essential that it is delivered as part of a well-rounded approach to communication and literacy skills.”  

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Will there be a book in your child's Christmas stocking?

My own children don't enjoy reading at all as they are not natural readers. They would choose almost anything over reading to occupy their time. However, there will be several books in each of their stockings as they are important for so many reasons. One of which is the special time we share as I read to them with my arms around them. I treasure this time as it's great for cementing the bond we have. We discuss the story, chat about our day and unwind ready for bed.
However, the proportion of children without books is increasing according to the National Literacy Trust. It is now one in three, compared with one in 10 in 2005. Children with their own books were more likely to be above-average readers and do better at school, the study of 18,000 children suggested. Poorer children and boys were less likely to have books, it added. The survey was carried out in September with school-aged children from 111 schools across the UK. It suggested that a third (33.2%) did not have books of their own. That translates to 3.8m children UK-wide.

Is this important? Yes!!!! books are important for so many reasons see for more details.

They are an important vehicle for parent-child interaction. A great tool for sharing!

Will there be any books in your child's Christmas stocking?

Saturday 17 December 2011

Happy Christmas from everyone at Small Talk and Smart Talkers

We have made a donation to Cancer Research UK again this year so please accept this as our Christmas greeting to you

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Please don't teach your child to say please and thank you....

....  until their language level is ready!

There is no-one who likes children to say 'please and  thank you' more than me. My own children are very polite and know that they are unlikely to get what they want without these important social niceties BUT I do not advocate parents of children with delayed language or early language to expect their child to use them until much later. 'Please' and 'thank you' are NOT communicatively functional. It will not help a child to express himself if he is struggling to use single words or put 2 together, to make him say 'please' and 'thank you'.

If a child is saying single words it means that they are at an early stage of language acquisition. If, therefore, you ask them to say 'Please' or 'Ta' before you hand over the required toy, piece of food, drink or whatever, they will be very confused. Much better to name the item or say something related and relevant to the moment, so they can learn the appropriate vocabulary.

If I am trying to encourage a child to put 2 words together such as 'more + biscuit', they won't be able to say 'more+biscuit+please' until much later because this is actually 3 words together. I am not aiming for 'biscuit please' because that is not as functional. It's much better to encourage them to say 'more biscuit'. This shows also the child the idea of combining words. 'More' is an excellent pivot word because you can have more of anything e.g. 'more cuddles, 'more ticking', 'more jumping', 'more juice', 'more bubbles'.... anything.

I don't even teach the signs for 'please' and 'thank you' until a much later, more sophisticated level. I have worked with too many children with special needs  in the past who constantly tap their hand to their mouth to ask for something.. anything.. with a generic sign for 'please'. Much, much better to teach the vocabulary (signed or spoken) for the item they might want.

Giving the good example is very important and is sufficient at this stage of development. I would welcome your comments though!

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Friday 9 December 2011

How to interact with pre-schoolers

I have seen some really good nursery worker-child interaction this week and some awful examples too. I won't  name and shame the bad ones but the good ones need mentioning. Jayne from Little people Nursery in Burntwood and Kelly, Lynne and Sara from Little Springs in Rugeley are all natural communicators. They have a skill for interacting with pre-schoolers which really brings out the best in the children. I mentioned it to one of them and she dismissed it by saying it was instinctive but in reality, nowadays it isn't. Our natural talents as communicators are diminishing. 

So what makes them so good, why are they able to bring out the best in the little ones? The Hanen course I went on last week was all about showing parents how small changes to their own behaviour can have a dramatic effect on their child's communication. According to Hanen, the following techniques help to engage a young child in conversation:
  • Accept anything the child says as meaningful and try to interpret it for them. For example, a non-verbal child took a coat to Sara and lifted his arms, she said, 'Oh, you want your coat on? I'll put your coat on'. 'Coat on' is exactly what he would have said if he could talk. I also saw a TA just take a coat from a child who handed it to her and put it on while carrying on a conversation with another adult. This was a missed opportunity for interaction.
  • When interacting with a child always have eye contact. Kelly was giving instructions to a child about a whole group activity so she crouched down to his level. Always be on their level with your face turned to the child's to face. The same TA mentioned above gave a very long and complex instruction 30 reception children while facing  away from them and trying to talk over her shoulder. Out of the 30, it looked as if just 2 little girls actually understood the task. Then to add insult to injury they were all told off for 'not listening'!
  • Use lots of different tones of voice, facial expressions and gestures. These help children to interpret the meaning of what is being said. All the staff mentioned are very expressive which helps keep their attention too. Imagine if you were in a  foreign country where you didn't understand everything that was said to you,  it would be really helpful if people used facial expression and gesture to supplement what they said to you. A quiet, flat affect is also the easiest way to switch off a child. Life is exciting to a two and three year old, working with them gives an opportunity for adults to be excited about it too!
  • Follow the child’s lead in playing even if the child plays with a toy in a different way than would be expected. It's only adults who stick to rigid rules while playing, who says the jigsaw pieces can't be spun or stacked or become chips?
  • Keep the conversation going by using the right type of questions. Try to avoid closed questions like “What is this?” or questions that answer themselves like “You want a biscuit, don’t you?”. Rather, use choice questions like “Do you want juice or tea?” or open-ended questions like “What happened?”
  • Wait for a child to say something, don't step in and anticipate. As with the coat example earlier, if a child who can talk, just hands the coat, wait for him to ask you to put it on. Hanen have what they call 'owling': observe, wait and listen. 
  • Add onto what the child says, so if the child says blue car, say 'yes a big blue car'. Jayne is excellent at doing this in a really natural way.
If you want to read more these very simple but powerful tips there are two Hanen publications which are well worth the effort to read. They are clear, simplistic and very, very sensible.


Small Talk SLT are able to offer Hanen 'It takes Two to Talk' programme for parents and from July 'Learning language and loving it' for early years professionals.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

What does 'pragmatics'mean?

By Vanessa King, Smart Talkers, Surrey

Baby Sale – lots of bargains! 

What is meant by this sign? We know without asking that it means items related to baby care are for sale, not that the shop is not literally selling babies. We know this because we have a context for the sign, a society in which we don’t sell babies in shops.

Pragmatics is a branch of linguistics concerned with the ways context contributes to meaning. It studies how meaning doesn’t just depend on understanding grammar and vocabulary, but also the situation of the speaker and the listener. It explains how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity in meaning, because meaning is transmitted by more than just the words the person is saying. The ability to understand another person’s intended meaning is called pragmatic competence and is regarded as one of the most challenging aspects of language learning because it comes only through experience.

We can divide pragmatics into three main sections:

  • Using language for different purposes
  • Modifying language according to the needs of the listener or the situation
  • Following rules for conversation and storytelling
To understand the importance of pragmatics, you might find it helpful to think about conversations you may have had with people from other cultures. If you have ever felt offended, confused or misunderstood, it’s probably due to a difference in pragmatics.

Using Language
We use language for many different purposes. Consider a typical conversation between me and my children regarding dinner in one evening.
“I’m hungry.” “I will make dinner in a minute.” “Get me an apple!” “I want doesn’t get!” “Mummy, will you make my dinner please?” “I’m making dinner now.”

All of that makes me sound like a really bad parent, but each of those phrases represents a different purpose to language. Language is used for informing, promising, demanding, instructing, requesting and many more. Eventually my children are fed so the language fulfils its purpose in each instance and my children are learning to communicate meaningfully.

Modifying Language
We frequently modify our language according to the needs of a listener or a situation. Even though we both speak English, my partner and I sometimes have difficulty understanding each other. He will say something and even though I understand the words I have to hesitate before replying. This is because in my mind I’m thinking ‘he can’t possibly mean what I think he means, so what does he actually mean?’ An example of this that happened recently – the computer was switched on and my Facebook account was displayed on the screen. My partner said ‘are you on the computer?’ I thought he was asking if I’m logged into the computer, which clearly I was so he must have meant something else. I didn’t know what he meant so he had to modify his question to ‘Can I use the computer?’ For me these are quite different questions but for him they mean the same thing. A similar thing occurred less than ten minutes later when I picked up a sample of my son’s artwork and he said ‘Oh have you seen that?’ Well, of course I’ve just seen it, it’s in my hand so what does he mean?!

Rules of conversation and storytelling
The ability to abide by rules of conversation and storytelling is of particular importance and crucial to success at school. Such rules are often learned through example and having an explicit understanding of just some of these rules will help you become a better communicator. Examples of the rules I’m talking about might include:
Taking turns. A conversation is at its most rewarding when it occurs between two or more people. If you listen to others as they speak, you’re taking the opportunity to think about their contribution which in turn enriches your own. If you dominate a conversation then you might as well be talking to yourself.

Introducing a new topic of conversation can be tricky too. I’ve been so tempted to interrupt someone (not taking turns!) with something that may or may not be related to what they’ve been saying because what they’ve said has triggered a memory or a thought I’m just desperate to share. I’m sure you’ve met people who do this habitually and they can be quite tiresome because they’re not following those unspoken rules of conversation.

Staying on topic is related to the above example. How can you be sure that what you want to say contributes to the conversation? There are verbal and non-verbal signals that we need to learn to recognise and some adults find them difficult to identify, how much harder it must be for young children who are quite ego-centric in their view of the world.

Apart from the words we use, being able to recognise the meaning of and using non-verbal signals is very important to communication. I know someone who frequently misses the shuffling feet, moving eyes and fiddling hands of the person they’re talking to, so they don’t recognise that the person has lost interest in what they’re saying. This is related to the use of facial expression and eye contact. Put simply, eye contact indicates interest while wandering eyes might indicate boredom, disinterest or lack of understanding.

Personal space

In conclusion, pragmatics is the study of the complex ways in which we use language and how context creates meaning. Pragmatics is learned by example by most people, but sometimes, for whatever reason, some people miss some of the lessons and they find it difficult to communicate and are frustrated when they can’t identify why. An understanding of pragmatics can help to diagnose communication issues and provide a framework for addressing those needs.

Frequently, in may areas NHS therapists cannot provide input for this type of difficulty but fortunately, Small Talk can help

Friday 2 December 2011

How can I help my child with 'show and tell'?

Thank you for this post from the excellent Talking Matters team from Australia

“Show and tell” or “news time” is a regular part of the school routine and a valuable opportunity to develop language skills but it can be a difficult task for children with speech, language, learning or social difficulties and can result in anxiety for children with low confidence. There are however things that can be done to support your child both at home and at school to make it a more enjoyable and educational experience.       
Each teacher has a different way of running their show and tell sessions. If you are not familiar with how sessions are run in your child’s class discuss it with the teacher. Some questions to ask include:
When is your child expected to do show and tell? Some classes have a set timetable, in others students choose to speak when they wish to.  If there is a timetable make sure you know when your child’s time is so you can help them prepare. If the child is able to choose ask the teacher how often would be reasonable for your child to speak. If your child prepares something make sure the teacher knows so they can ensure your child has a chance to speak.     
Is there a set topic? If there a list of topics ask for a copy, or for the topic to be put in your child’s diary or communication book ahead of time so you can help your child plan ahead. If children choose their own topics ask what types of topics the other children often choose. This will help your child choose something that interests the rest of the class. 
How long is each child expected to speak for? If the expected time is unrealistic for your child’s abilities discuss with the teacher what might be reasonable for your child to be expected to do.    
Is it a whole class activity? Some classes speak in small groups, others address the whole class at once.   
Do the other children ask questions?  If so how many and what type of questions do they typically ask?  Is the teacher happy for you to prepare for some questions that can then be asked by some supportive children.  
Are there any other rules or things you need to know?  Some teachers have rules around “no toys” or other topics that children are not permitted to discuss during show and tell.   
Once you have a clear idea what is expected you can more effectively prepare your child.  Help your child to prepare for show and tell by:
Preparing for the topic. Choose a suitable topic that your child is interested in and will feel confident and comfortable discussing. Help your child research the topic. Gather some hands on resources.  
Planning the presentation. Work out with your child what they want to say and how they will say it. 
Practice the presentation. Be your child’s audience and watch and listen as they present.  The more times they can practice the more confident they will be. Make it as much like the way your child will do it at school as possible.  Sit your child on a chair and sit yourself on the floor. Put your hand up and allow your child to ask you for a question.  If there are specific greetings used practice these too.  
Some other things to try include: 
Use visual supports: These might be a real object to talk about, some photos of your child if they are talking about an outing or activity they have done, some pictures that your child has drawn about the topic or that you have printed from the internet.  
Use a planner to plan out what your child is going to say: This is like a story map and you can use it to help your child plan what they will say.  You can use pictures for children who can’t read.  Your child’s teacher may have one that they can give you or you can download them from this site  (scroll right down the page for the planner).      
Once you have planned it on the planner help your child use the plan to practice presenting and then take it to school to help them do the real thing.
Use your child’s communication book to support the teacher.  If your child has limited communication skills or their speech is difficult to understand, write in your child’s communication book what your child’s topic is and some background information. This might include who gave them the item, where they got it, where they went and what they did there.  If your child will need to answer questions include answers to the questions kids might commonly ask. This will help the teacher understand your child’s presentation and the teacher can then help supportive children ask suitable questions and fill in any unknown information that your child is not able to provide.   
Try an alternative method of presenting.  If your child has very limited communication skills or is very shy discuss with the teacher whether they could present in a different way such as through a power point or slide show display, or a short video they could record at home.
Use a social story to help your child prepare for show and tell. Social stories prepare your child for what will happen and help them to know in advance what they have to do, reducing anxiety and increasing the chances of success. For more information about social stories visit  
Help your child be involved in other children’s presentations. If your child has very limited communication skills help them to ask questions of other children by practising questions in advance.  You could also write some questions on a card, using pictures or symbols if your child needs them and sending them to school with your child. During show and tell your child could use the card as a cue to ask a question or raise their hand and give the card to the teacher or another child to ask. Children with communication devices could have some common questions programmed into their device so they could ask them. Make sure you discuss these options with your child’s teacher so your child can be supported in their efforts.  
We hope show and tell becomes a valued way to develop your child’s communication and confidence.
The Talking Matters website has information on supporting children’s communication and learning with regular newsletters, facebook and twitter. The extra’s section has free downloadable information and activities for parents and teachers on a range of topics.    
Related posts:

Saturday 26 November 2011

Looking for a gift with real meaning?

I CAN - helps children commnicateFor just £15, I CAN, the children's communication charity is giving you the chance to give a little bit of the English language to someone special. They'll also send you an adoption pack for you to wrap up and put under the Christmas tree.

Find a word to give as gift or create your own
And the best part: all proceeds are used to help children who struggle to find the words they need make friends and progress at school. For children with speech and language problems, the right help can make a huge difference to their well-being and their future prospects. This Christmas please give a gift of words and help change the story of a child's life.
1 word will provide a family with a DVD giving them advice and support,  2 will help them respond to a worried parent by phone, while 5 will help a child receive one-to-one support from a speech and language therapist.
Go to to adopt a word now

I've chosen the word 'PERSEVERENCE' as my word as that's we need so much of to make a difference both in life and in therapy situations. What will you choose??


Saturday 19 November 2011

Hello Tool Kit

This month sees the launch of a new downloadable toolkit Celebrate Good Times with information and activities that will help you celebrate communication milestones big and small.

The toolkit includes information on:
  • Celebrating Special Moments – ideas on how to celebrate special moments in your child’s life, plus questions to help celebratory conversations flow
  • Celebrate Festivities – help your children learn signs linked to Christmas and see if you can learn them too
  • Celebrating Success – ideas on how to hold a mini-awards ceremony at home, in nursery or school settings, plus certificate templates to amend
  • Celebrating Diversity – a ‘Show and Tell’ activity to celebrate different cultures and languages
Celebrate Good Times also includes background information and advice on supporting children with English as an Additional Language along with a signposting section with helpful links.

A number of partners have kindly inputted their ideas and local activities into this toolkit including Leicestershire County Council, The Makaton Charity, London SIG Bilingualism, Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust and Speech and Language Therapy Service and Plymouth City Council.

To download a copy of Celebrate Good Times

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Will mainstreaming my child improve their social skills?

Studies at the University of Washington compare  the peer relations of preschool children with communication disorders to those of normally developing preschoolers and throw light on this complicated aspect. Surely if there are better role models to follow, this will help our language impaired children?

Children with communication disorders do not generally participate in group play as much as their peers and their social bids do not receive positive responses. They are the “less preferred” playmates and have fewer reciprocal friendships. These children also tend to interact more with adults than peers.

The study divided children into 12 play groups, each with 6 members. 6 of the groups were specialized groups, where 3 of them had only children with diagnosed communication disorders and 3 had only normally developing children. The other 6 groups were mainstreamed environments where 4 normally developing children were grouped with 2 children with communication disorders. The groups met for 2.5 hours per day, 5 days a week, for 2 weeks. They were involved in preschool-like programs which included circle time, music, art, snack, story and 30 minutes of free play. During free play the children were monitored based on the type of play they engaged in- solitary, parallel or group. They were also analyzed based on the different measures of cognitive play- 
  • functional
  • constructive
  • dramatic play
  • games with rules. 

Children not engaging in play were identified as being:
  • unoccupied
  • an onlooker
  • reading or listening
  • exploring
  • participating in active conversation
  • transitioning
  • interacting with adults. 

The study looked at the different types of social behaviors that these children engaged in:
  • gaining attention of their peers
  •  using peers as resources
  • expressing affection 
  • directing peers. 

Lastly, the children had to rate their peers based on who they would most rather play with.

There were some commonalities between the findings in the groups, but it was noted that children with communication disorders are involved less in active conversations, spend more time transitioning, have fewer positive social behaviors and are less successful in gaining the attention and support of their peers. However, it was also noted that most of the children could be defined as “socially competent” which implies that those with communication disorders could adapt to different interactions, at least in the short term. It was hypothesized that the children with communication disorders placed in mainstream groups would have different reactions than those in the specialized groups. However, that was not the case. Both groups had similar rates of social interactions and this was explained by the variability among those with communication disorders. In the specialized groups, the children with the strongest social skills took the role of facilitating group involvement. The setting did not matter.

This study is important to our understanding of Communication Disorders because it disproves the idea that mainstreaming these students will help to increase the quality of their social interactions. Rather, it was important to note that the children with the weakest social skills will more often than not were at the periphery of group activity, regardless of their environment. Therefore, educators must understand that there needs to be a better solution than merely mainstreaming the students.

Guralnick, Michael J., Robert T. O’Connor, Mary A. Hammond, John M. Gottman, and Kelly Kinnish. (1996). The Peer Relations of Preschool Children with Communication Disorders.  

Saturday 12 November 2011

Learning to listen

We take the development of communication for granted but it is actually the best achievement of our lifetime. There, is however,  a very alarming national decline in speech, language and communication skills which means that at least 40,000 children started school in 2009 without adequate spoken language ability (Wright, J., 2009) and a Government report in 2008 showed that this can be as high as 50% of children in some areas (Bercow, J.). The Government’s Communication Tsar Jean Gross, reported that ‘at least’ 1 in every 6 three year olds has a recognised difficulty while many, many more were undetected. Today’s demands of the reception class teacher are tremendous yet the children are starting school without the necessary pre-requisite skills. Spoken language skills are the building blocks for written language and almost every educational task pre-supposes a certain level of ability.
I carried out a study recently involving 100 schools across the country, which showed 100 % Primary Head Teachers were extremely concerned about declining speech, language and communication skills. The main problem they believed was a lack of listening skills.
We live in a very visual, fast- paced age and often the first time a child is required to do any formal listening is when they start school. Many, many children have to be taught to attend and listen before they can begin the demands of the national curriculum. I started my Small Talker groups to try to address this issue.  We work on ‘active listening’.
A lot of parents and staff will repeatedly say “Listen!” But what does that mean to a 3 year old? Listening is not a passive skill, it’s an active one and therefore one that needs to be learned. We tend to get quite poor results if we say “Behave!” to our little ones. It means very little, whereas if we describe the behaviour we want, they are more likely to understand what we require of them and then we might have some chance of them doing what we’ve asked. For example, if we want them to be quiet, sit still and not run around in the GP waiting room it better to tell them that than ask them to ‘Behave!’ Many parents and lots of teachers know this and act accordingly. We need to treat listening the same way.
Active listening can be broken down in to:
•good sitting
•good looking
•good waiting
•good thinking
You wouldn’t expect good thinking until school age and it’s very hard to do good waiting as a 3 or 4 year old (it’s hard enough for me to wait if I've got something to say!) Which is why they find it hard to wait for their turn or to let others answer a question to which they know the answer.
Our Small Talker groups (for 3 and 4 year olds) work on the first 3 components of active listening. We use a puppet to demonstrate ‘not good’ sitting so that he actually mirrors some of their behaviours e.g. picking the carpet to picking their noses. They are asked to help the puppet ‘because he’s not naughty, he’s just got to learn’. They have to look for the ‘un-desired’ behaviour and say ‘stop, do good sitting’. They are usually excellent at identifying the behaviour in the puppet although they may still be doing the same themselves for a while. Afterwards, I put the puppet where he can ‘watch’ them do good sitting so he can learn by example. I then monitor the behaviour in a very positive way so that I praise good sitting (and the wriggly ones usually sit up in an aim to please) or if that doesn’t work I ask the wriggly ones to help the puppet by showing him ‘good sitting’. If they are constantly nagged to sit still or to listen, they will switch off. It’s amazing how well they respond to this approach. I have had a few run-ins with TA’s and parents who have been completely peed off with my approach because they are itching to dictate ‘Will you sit still, now!’ However, I’ve asked them to trust me and watch what happens even if I am irritating them….  we’ve had some great results! or

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Wednesday 9 November 2011

What is ELDP (Early Language Development Programme)?

The Communication Trust, a 40‐strong coalition of voluntary organisations with expertise in speech, language and communication, last week welcomed the announcement that I CAN will be leading the Early Language Development Programme (ELDP) contract along with several other Trust members. However, it suggested the programme needed to go further to ensure all children’s needs were being met.

ELDP is a three‐year Department for Education funded programme to support the foundation of good communication development in young children. It is focusing on developing the speech, language and communication skills of pre‐school children through partnerships with children centres. It was one of several contracts awarded following the SEN Green Paper. The Communication Trust, which is this year leading the Hello campaign (national year of
communication), has campaigned for continued investment in early language support following the Every Child A Talker programme (ECAT). ECAT successes included ensuring children reached the best possible language levels before they started school and identifying children with potential difficulties at a much earlier age. The ELDP investment is building on this work on very early language with a particular focus on under‐3s.

Anita Kerwin‐Nye, Director of The Communication Trust, said: “This important piece of work, led by the voluntary sector, shows real commitment to meeting the speech, language and communication needs of children early on.    It also builds directly on the successes of ECAT providing support for local staff and adds to the momentum of the Hello campaign. “With more than 50% of children in some areas arriving at school with significant language delay,
further investment in early language will help to address a significant growing public health issue. Early language is one of the biggest predicators of future earnings and this programme is starting to address the challenges outlined in Graham Allen MP and Frank Field MP’s recent reviews. “The ELDP model, developed by I CAN, works through children’s centres and we hope it will
provide a launch pad for professionals to build on their learning and work towards the City and Guilds Award in Supporting Children and Young People’s Speech Language and Communication developed by The Communication Trust, in partnership with City & Guilds.  We also want to see the ELDP working with local authority early years teams and those working directly with parents.  Kerwin‐Nye continues; “It is vital that the ELDP is not seen as a replacement for an area‐wide strategic approach to commissioning services for all pre‐school children. We know there is currently a shortage of speech and language therapists and other expert staff yet these professionals are crucial if we are to respond to the needs of children and families identified through the ELDP.
“The Communication Trust is also calling on Government to develop standards and guidance for Health and Wellbeing Boards on the characteristics of an effective speech, language and communication strategy. Some excellent models of provision supporting speech and language exist already and we look forward to highlighting these at our Shine a Light Good Communication awards on November 23rd.”

Friday 4 November 2011

Longitudinal Documentation of Sign Language Acquisition in a Deaf Village in Bali

The iSLanDS (International centre for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies) institute started an ELDP-funded project called “Longitudinal Documentation of Sign Language Acquisition in a Deaf Village in Bali” in August 2011. Carte Bali map
As part of this project Connie de Vos (PI) will conduct fieldwork in Bali in September 2011 and May 2012.  
As part of this project Connie will carry out bi-weekly video recordings of two deaf children from the age of 6;4 and 6;6 (till 7;3 and 7;5) in various culturally appropriate contexts: with adults during, for instance, meal times, farming activities, and religious activities, in interaction with other (deaf) children, and at school.
This project dovetails with the EuroBabel project funded by EUROCORES, which investigates sign languages in ten different rural communities across the world, among them Kata Kolok(KK).