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Elizabeth Usher Memorial Lecture: Language is literacy is language – Positioning speech-language pathology in education policy, practice, paradigms and polemics

This paper is concerned with the fundamental and intrinsic links between early receptive and expressive oral language competence on...
This paper is concerned with the fundamental and intrinsic links between early receptive and expressive oral language competence on the one hand and the transition to literacy in the early school years and achievement of academic (and life) success...
This paper is concerned with the fundamental and intrinsic links between early receptive and expressive oral language competence on the one hand and the transition to literacy in the early school years and achievement of academic (and life) success on the other. Consequently, it also concerns the professional knowledge base of two key disciplines whose work is central to children's early language and literacy success: teachers and speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Oral language competence underpins the transition to literacy, which in turn underpins academic achievement. Academic achievement is significant in its own right, conferring opportunities for further education and training post-secondary school, contributing to psychological health and mitigating some of the mental health risks and adversities that can be associated with adolescence and early adulthood. The central thesis is that the linguistic basis of the transition to literacy makes early reading success core business for SLPs. Further, SLPs need a firm grasp of the political and ideological factors that have exerted historical and continuing influence on reading instruction in western nations such as Australia, the US and the UK. This will facilitate the establishment of meaningful working relationships with teaching colleagues, to achieve optimal education outcomes for all children.
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Oral Language Competence: How It Relates to Classroom Behavior

Classroom behavior is a source of anxiety, stress, and distraction for many teachers and is a key reason teachers...
Classroom behavior is a source of anxiety, stress, and distraction for many teachers and is a key reason teachers give for leaving the profession. This often raises questions regarding the extent to which teacher preparation programs and initial teaching...
Classroom behavior is a source of anxiety, stress, and distraction for many teachers and is a key reason teachers give for leaving the profession. This often raises questions regarding the extent to which teacher preparation programs and initial teaching placements prepare pre-service teachers for working with students who display challenging behavior, regardless of its basis. In fact, teachers have a broad range of widely applicable strategies they may use in the classroom, such as moving toward a misbehaving student or positively reinforcing appropriate behaviors. Strategies such as these are an essential part of a teacher's toolkit, but some students require more specific, tiered interventions. One of the more dangerous myths about teaching is that if teachers plan lessons that are engaging enough, students will behave well. This leads to teachers blaming themselves for student misbehavior and ignores all the other influences that affect a child, such as conflict at home, poor nutrition, and previous school experiences. It also neglects the fact that some children have a specific developmental disorder that affects their processing of information, and hence their learning and behavior. Some developmental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are widely known, albeit possibly overdiagnosed and subject to ongoing debate regarding optimal management strategies. Less widely known and understood, however, is the impact of developmental language disorder (DLD) on behavior and learning. Based on the statistics, the odds are good that this is an issue that at least a few students are dealing with. The good news is that knowledge of difficulties associated with DLD may help teachers not only better deal with challenging behaviors but also improve learning outcomes for students with language disorders, as well as those outside the clinical range who nevertheless display difficulties processing and using oral language. Before considering DLD more closely, the author defines language skills and explains why they are relevant to school success. The following steps are suggested for implementation in the classroom: (1) Consider establishing a number of routines for the start of class; (2) Keep in mind the working memory constraints that apply to students and provide only a small amount of new information at any given time; and (3) Seek the advice of professionals, such as speech-language pathologists, who can offer advice on specific student needs. Although the steps provided will not resolve every problem that arises, they can help teachers develop a more preventive approach working with DLD students.
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SOLAR: The Science of Language and Reading

Reading ability is profoundly important, for individuals and for the societies of which they are a part. Research indicates...
Reading ability is profoundly important, for individuals and for the societies of which they are a part. Research indicates that we should be successfully teaching 95% of children to read, yet, in reality, high rates of reading failure are...
Reading ability is profoundly important, for individuals and for the societies of which they are a part. Research indicates that we should be successfully teaching 95% of children to read, yet, in reality, high rates of reading failure are common in western, industrialized nations. In large part, this reflects a failure to translate into practice knowledge derived from the scientific study of reading and reading instruction and, indeed, to the rejection in some circles of the notion that there is a science of reading, in the same way that there is a science of memory, learning, and cognition. In this article, I suggest the Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) framework as a way of positioning oral language as a central driver of reading acquisition. The SOLAR framework is illustrated via the Language House schema, which considers the social-emotional contexts for language acquisition and reading instruction, alongside the ongoing development of prosocial interpersonal skills and mastery of sufficient language and reading skills by early adulthood to be able to function as part of the social and economic mainstream. I argue that speech-language therapy has much to offer to the promotion of evidence-based early reading and writing instruction and support, given the linguistic nature of reading and the high comorbidity between language and reading difficulties and social-emotional disturbances in childhood and adolescence.
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Improving literacy in developing countries using speech recognition-supported games on mobile devices

Learning to read in a second language is challenging, but highly rewarding. synthesis of research findings suggests that practicing...
Learning to read in a second language is challenging, but highly rewarding. synthesis of research findings suggests that practicing recalling and vocalizing words for expressing an intended meaning could improve word reading skills - including reading in a second...
Learning to read in a second language is challenging, but highly rewarding. synthesis of research findings suggests that practicing recalling and vocalizing words for expressing an intended meaning could improve word reading skills - including reading in a second language - more than silent recognition of what the given words mean. Many language learning software do not support this instructional approach, owing to the technical challenges of incorporating speech recognition support to check that the learner is vocalizing the correct word. In this paper, we present results from a usability test and two subsequent experiments that explore the use of two speech recognition-enabled mobile games to help rural children in India read words with understanding. Through a working speech recognition prototype, we discuss two major contributions of this work: first, we give empirical evidence that shows the extent to which productive training (i.e. vocalizing words) is superior to receptive vocabulary training, and discuss the use of scaffolding hints to ""unpack"" factors in the learner's linguistic knowledge that may impact reading. Second, we discuss what our results suggest for future research in HCI.
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Highly accurate children’s speech recognition for interactive reading tutors using subword units

Speech technology offers great promise in the field of automated literacy and reading tutors for children. In such applications...
Speech technology offers great promise in the field of automated literacy and reading tutors for children. In such applications speech recognition can be used to track the reading position of the child, detect oral reading miscues, assessing comprehension of...
Speech technology offers great promise in the field of automated literacy and reading tutors for children. In such applications speech recognition can be used to track the reading position of the child, detect oral reading miscues, assessing comprehension of the text being read by estimating if the prosodic structure of the speech is appropriate to the discourse structure of the story, or by engaging the child in interactive dialogs to assess and train comprehension. Despite such promises, speech recognition systems exhibit higher error rates for children due to variabilities in vocal tract length, formant frequency, pronunciation, and grammar. In the context of recognizing speech while children are reading out loud, these problems are compounded by speech production behaviors affected by difficulties in recognizing printed words that cause pauses, repeated syllables and other phenomena. To overcome these challenges, we present advances in speech recognition that improve accuracy and modeling capability in the context of an interactive literacy tutor for children. Specifically, this paper focuses on a novel set of speech recognition techniques which can be applied to improve oral reading recognition. The proposed subword unit based speech recognition framework is shown to provide equivalent accuracy to a whole-word based speech recognizer while enabling detection of oral reading events and finer grained speech analysis during recognition. The efficacy of the approach is demonstrated using data collected from children in grades 3–5.
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Auditory processing deficits in children with reading and language impairments: can they (and should they) be treated?

Sixty-five children with specific reading disability (SRD), 25 children with specific language impairment (SLI), and 37 age-matched controls were...
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...
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.
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