Learning Difficulties Australia


Language & Literacy

Key Research Papers
Programs and Resources: Oral Language Resources
Programs and Resources: Other Resources
Government Initiatives
Useful Links

Key Research Papers

Comparative effectiveness of phonological awareness and oral language intervention for children with low emergent literacy skills
Ruth Fielding-Barnsley & Ian Hay, University of Tasmania
This paper reports the results of an intervention aimed to develop language and phonological awareness skills in children with low emergent literacy skills. Post test results demonstrated both intervention groups made significant gains on measures of encoding (spelling) compared to the class at-risk control group with the phonological awareness group showing an advantage over the language group. Intervention targeting both language and phonological awareness skills are both effective in countering the effects of low emergent literacy skills.

Early intervention: What's not to like?
If a child has language problems, when would be the best age to intervene? At 18 months of age, when they are just at the outset of f learning language, or at five years, when they are re in school? Most people would say this is a no-brainer, with early intervention being preferred... There is, however, a problem with early intervention that is easily overlooked, but which is well-documented in the case of children’s language problems. This is the phenomenon of the "late bloomer". Quite simply, the earlier you identify children’s language difficulties, the higher the proportion of cases will prove to be "false positives" who spontaneously move into the normal range without any intervention.

Speech and Language Problems in Children
NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Children vary in their development of speech and language skills. Health professionals have milestones for what's normal. These milestones help determine if a child is on track or if he or she may need extra help. For example, a child usually has one or two words like "Hi," "dog," "Dada," or "Mama" by her first birthday. Sometimes a delay may be caused by hearing loss, while other times it may be due to a speech or language disorder. Language disorders can mean that the child has trouble understanding what others say or difficulty sharing her thoughts. Children who have trouble producing speech sounds correctly or who hesitate or stutter when talking may have a speech disorder. If your child's speech or language appears to be delayed, talk to your child's doctor.

LD Auditory Processing Disorder in Children
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (2004)
Auditory processing is a term used to describe what happens when your brain recognizes and interprets the sounds around you. The "disorder" part of auditory processing disorder means that something is adversely affecting the processing or interpretation of the information. 

Auditory processing deficits in children with reading and language impairments: can they (and should they) be treated?
Authors: G M McArthur, D Ellis, C M Atkinson, M Coltheart
Cognition 01/07/200807/2008; 107(3):946-77.
Sixty-five children with specific reading disability (SRD), 25 children with specific language impairment (SLI), and 37 age-matched controls were tested for their frequency discrimination, rapid auditory processing,vowel discrimination, and consonant-vowel discrimination. Subgroups of children with SRD or SLI produced abnormal frequency discrimination(42%), rapid auditory processing (12%), vowel discrimination (23%), or consonant-vowel discrimination (18%) thresholds for their age.Twenty-eight of these children trained on a programme that targeted their specific auditory processing deficit for 6 weeks. Twenty-five of these 28 trainees produced normal thresholds for their targeted processing skill after training. These gains were not explained by gains in auditory attention, in the ability to do psychophysical tasks in general, or by test-retest effects. The 25 successful trainees also produced significantly higher scores on spoken language and spelling tests after training. However, an untrained control group showed test-retest effects on the same tests. These results suggest that auditory processing deficits can be treated successfully in children with SRD and SLI but that this does not help them acquire new reading, spelling, or spoken language skills.

Criteria for SLI: the Stark and Tallal legacy and beyond
Author: E Plante
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Since it first appeared, the Stark and Tallal (1981 ) criteria for the selection of children with specific language impairment (SLI) has had a profound influence on research with this population. A review of the recent literature indicates that these criteria continue to be used, in part or in whole, in current research. However, the recent literature also provides illustrations of the use and interpretations of norm-referenced tests that can serve to update current best practices in subject selection. The original criteria for IQ and language test scores, along with their more recent adaptations, are reconsidered in light of current information on the use of tests with SLI.

Specificity and characteristics of learning disabilities
Authors: Natasha Eisenmajer, Nola Ross, Chris Pratt
Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines, 01/11/200511/2005; 46(10):1108-15.
BACKGROUND:The specificity of impairments in specific reading disabilities (SRD) and specific language impairments (SLI) has recently been questioned,with many children recruited for studies of SRD and SLI demonstrating impairments in both reading and oral language development. This has implications for the results of SRD and SLI studies where both reading and oral language skills are not assessed. Thus there is a need to compare the profiles of children with both oral language and reading impairments to groups of children with SRD and SLI.

From Neurons to Neighbourhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development                                                                   
Authors: Jack P. Shonkoff and Deborah A. Phillips, Editors, 2000
Board on Children, Youth, and Families National Research Council and Institute of Medicine
Scientists have had a long-standing fascination with the complexities of the process of human development. Parents have always been captivated by the rapid growth and development that characterize the earliest years of their children's lives. Professional service providers continue to search for new knowledge to inform their work. Consequently, one of the distinctive features of the science of early childhood development is the extent to which it evolves under the anxious and eager eyes of millions of families, policy makers, and service providers who seek authoritative guidance as they address the challenges of promoting the health and well-being of young children.

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Programs and Resources

Oral Language Resources

The development of oral language remains the most significant factor in children’s learning and development. In an increasingly visual world, the development of oral language relies on conversations between young children and more competent language users.

This LDA Resource provides Revised Expressive and Receptive Language Individual and Class Checklists, reviews of published resources for developing oral language through games, activities and conversations, and a list of references to several distributors of oral language and other resources. Information on each resource gives details such as who it could be used by and for, language focus, skills addressed, and suggestions for use.


Revised Expressive and Receptive Language Class Checklist
Revised Individual Student Expressive and Receptive Checklist
Spot on Speaking
Away with Words
Language Bites
Pirate Talk
Look Who’s Listening
Story Talk
Word Journey
Distributors of Oral Language and Other Resources

Theoretical Foundations and Principles for Oral Language Development
Konza, D (2011) Research into Practice: Oral Language, Government of South Australia, Department of Education and Children’s Services: Literacy Secretariat.
This paper by Deslea Konza introduces a series of papers on the ‘big six’ of literacy, published on the website of South Australia’s DECS Literacy Secretariat. In succinct and readable style, it outlines the importance of oral language with reference to research. It provides principles regarding its development and the role of the teacher, along with a range of practical teaching strategies.

Munro, J (2011) Teaching Oral Language: building a firm foundation using ICPALER in the early primary years. ACER Press. May be purchased from https://shop.acer.edu.au/acer-shop/product/A5165BK
This book provides in-depth theoretical foundations and a model for analysing oral language, well suited to literacy leaders, teachers and researchers who need this deeper understanding. In brief, ICPALER stands for Ideas, Conventions, Purpose, Ability to Learn how to use language, Expressing ideas, Receiving ideas. The chapters of the book unpack each of these dimensions of language and the implications for understanding development, diagnosing difficulties and teaching to support appropriate development.

Other resources

Love and Reilly – Speech and language articles
Authors Elizabeth Love and Sue Reilly are Speech Language Pathologists who also have qualifications in education. They worked extensively with individuals who have speech and language impairment and have a particular interest in the relationship between language and literacy development.

Get Ready to Read!
Get Ready to Read! (GRTR!) is a national initiative to build the early literacy skills of preschool-age children. The initiative provides an easy-to-administer, research-based screening tool to help prepare all preschool children build the skills they need to learn to read when they enter school. This website is a part of NCLD's initiative to provide information to help build early literacy skills by integrating emergent literacy screening and learning activities into routine early childhood education, child-care and parenting practices.

Recognition and Response
A chapter from the  Handbook of Response to Intervention in Early Childhood detailing Recognition & Response: A Model of Response to Intervention to Promote Academic Learning in Early Education. 

Reading Rockets Early Literacy Development
Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers learn skills everyday that will help them become readers. It's an exciting and important time of learning! Other related areas include Parent Tips, Preschool and Childcare, and Phonemic Awareness.

Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA): Free Online Read-Alouds for K-3
CKLA  have collected and organised YouTube videos of various CKLA Read-Alouds by grade level that you can access from their website. 

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Government Initiatives

A child who is healthy, attends school, and is able to read will have better educational outcomes
This is the sixth and final report in the Education and Health Standing Committee’s Inquiry into improving educational outcomes for Western Australians Inquiry into Improving Educational Outcomes for Western Australians of All Ages. This Report documents three core areas to help improve educational outcomes for Western Australian children, namely:
•    The development of improved strategies to address poor attendance;
•    Focusing on and improving literacy levels from an early age; and
•    Improving the health of preschool and school children.
 The Committee found through the course of the Inquiry a strong correlation between the social determinants of health and educational outcomes.

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Useful Links

Speech Pathology Australia (SPA)
SPA is the national peak body for the speech pathology profession in Australia.

Children of the Code
The Children of the Code Project is a ‘case in point’ for how poorly our society understands learning and the personal and societal costs of unhealthy learning. Consisting of over 100 interviews with field leading scientists and scholars the COTC project has produced over 140 video segments that cover subjects ranging from the origin of writing to the neurology involved in producing the virtual language experience we call reading. All of Children of the Code online resources are free. Public schools and non-profit organizations can freely embed our content in their own courses and websites. A testimonial for Children of the Code says it all: "This is probably the most interesting, educational, insightful, researched, helpful, meaningful information I've received since becoming a teacher." - J. Stillman, Budlong Elementary, L.A. California

The Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL), is a research to practice technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education, to promote the adoption and sustained use of evidence-based early literacy learning of young children identified with disabilities, developmental delays, and those at risk for poor outcomes.

Speech-Language Pathologists and Reading Achievement
Resources developed in partnership with: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Literacy is an essential prerequisite to students' academic achievement, social wellbeing, and lifetime opportunities. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have the specialized knowledge and experience that's needed to identify communication disorders and provide the help that children need to build their language literacy skills. SLPs play an important role in both special education and regular education settings providing classroom-based services,  co-teach with classroom teachers and reading specialists, working with students who are at risk for reading and learning difficulties and with children who are experiencing academic failure.

NIDCD – National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (USA)
The NIDCD, established by the Federal Government, is mandated to conduct and support biomedical and behavioral research and research training in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language. The Institute also conducts and supports research and research training related to disease prevention and health promotion; addresses special biomedical and behavioral problems associated with people who have communication impairments or disorders; and supports efforts to create devices which substitute for lost and impaired sensory and communication function.

Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development
The Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development (Encyclopedia) is the most up-to-date scientific knowledge on early childhood development, from conception to age five. The Encyclopedia helps to provide answers to questions about children's language and literacy – answers that are based on relevant and up-to-date research presented in an easily accessible format. Early learning childcare practitioners, teachers, policymakers, and parents can all draw on the Encyclopedia for reliable, evidence-based information to support their daily practices and to make decisions in the best interests of the children in their care. The section on language development and literacy aims to help understand the close link between learning to talk and learning to read, their importance in children’s intellectual development, the learning mechanisms involved and the external factors that influence them, and signs that could indicate a learning disability.It contains a variety of resources including information sheets as well as a comprehensive document that contains all the articles and the synthesis, for downloading.

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