18. October 2019 - 13:00 till 14:30
Share it on:

Tackling early language delay & disorders in children from CALD backgrounds | Room 708 | Friday, 18. October 2019

A language other than English is spoken in 20% of Australian homes (most frequently Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese) and in Hong Kong, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families comprise 9% of the population (non-Cantonese languages are Mandarin, English, Nepali, Hindi, Bahasa Indonesian Urdu, Tagalog and Thai). Children from CALD backgrounds have a higher risk of late language emergence than monolingual speakers (‘late talkers’; Odds Ratio 2.48) and have a significantly higher risk of lagging behind in school readiness on school entry. The problem is exacerbated in families from low socio-economic backgrounds. In CALD families and families of low SES the rate of delayed emergence of language can be as high as 50%.     
Given the increasing number of migrants worldwide, the size of the problem is staggering. For example, in 2013 the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs reported that there were 214 million migrants worldwide, and the figure is increasing. Children from CALD families, including migrants and refugees, are entitled to inclusive and equitable quality education, and promotion of lifelong opportunities (UN Sustainable Goals Report, 2013). Countries therefore need to ensure that these young children are equipped with the necessary cognitive and language skills to be ready for school entry and academic success.
To date, there has been no efficacy study of the impact of an early language intervention programme for these children. This serious gap in knowledge has led to the current team developing a program of research with The University of Sydney and The University of Hong Kong. With the support of a HKU-USyd Collaborative Partnership Grant, our research teams have developed assessment, diagnostic and early intervention protocols that consider an individual child’s strengths and areas of need regardless of language exposure. Each team has piloted two early intervention protocols and have engaged with scholars from the USA to upscale these interventions in response to this global health issue.
Dr Munro’s research was supported by a University of Hong Kong and University of Sydney Collaborative Partnership Grant and her visit to the University of Hong Kong was enabled by a China Studies Centre outgoing visitor grant.
Dr Natalie Munro is a certified, practising speech pathologist and Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Faculty of Health Sciences. Natalie’s research and teaching interests include childhood developmental disorders (Developmental Language Disorder, Autism and ADHD), evidence-based practice and intervention research. Natalie is the Course Director for the speech pathology undergraduate program and recently completed the VC Sponsorship Program for CALD women.