Speech Pathology Program
Speech Intervention

Speech Pathology Intervention in a Culturally Diverse Society


Australia is a culturally diverse society.  Approx. 23 % of the population were born overseas. Approx 14% of migrants were born in non English speaking countries. 

(Australian Bureau of Statistics 1999)


King & Fogle (2006)

  • Research suggests that monolingual & bilingual children meet language developmental milestones at similar times.
  • A child who has a language delay in his first language will find the acquisition of the second language more challenging.
  • There is no evidence to support that using two languages results in long term confusion for children. Use of two languages in the same conversation is a sign of mastery of both languages
  • Many parents rely on television to teach the second language.  However, television is a secondary support and human interaction is the best method for language learning.


There is a need for sensitivity to linguistic and cultural differences when working with children from a different culture:



The following areas need to be addressed with all children with communication difficulties.


Speech refers to the physical production of sounds.  Children with speech disorders say sounds incorrectly and can be difficult to understand in comparison to children of their own age.  These difficulties include

  • Articulation – sound distortions, isolated sound distortions and structural problems
  • Phonology – rule based sound errors that affect related group of sounds
  • Dyspraxia – co-ordination and motor planning problems

A speech pathologist can design a program and decide the appropriate course of therapy.  Cued articulation techniques could be used in a preschool situation to provide a visual cue for the target sounds.


Language is the general term that refers to the communication system that allows an individual to function in society.  Language encompasses expression and understanding in speaking, reading, writing and gesturing. 

A language program may deal with some or all of these areas:

  • Phonology- The sounds that make up words. Awareness of sounds (phonological awareness) has been shown to play a critical role in the development of early literacy. 


Games that you can practise:

*Clapping, marching to syllables, robot talk where syllables are marked.  Contrast long words with many syllables with short words of one syllable.  Set up blocks or pictures of drums. The teacher says a word.  Child repeats the words separating the syllables while pointing to blocks or drums


*Try rhyming games, songs, poems and stories – Dr Seuss, rhyming tests, I spy something that rhymes with…Be aware that young children may not be able to generate their own rhyme.


*Sound effect stories – the teacher tells a story and the children make the sound effects.  (e.g. snake sound ssss, wind sound www).   Point out that the children can make any sounds they want – their mouths know what to do.

*For preschool children who can not identify the onset of a word, the GET READY sign helps them understand what they should be doing.  Teacher says the target word (e.g. ball.  Get ready to say ball) Take a breath in and point to your mouth.  As you say the word repeat the sound still pointing to your mouth (b..b..ball)   


  • Syntax or grammar – words combine to form phrases and sentences, words have different endings and forms (morphology – e.g. plural s)


Model the correct grammar (e.g. child “I Knowed it” Teacher “Yes, you knew it”)


            Play games that develop pronouns (boy vs. girl, he vs. she)


            Recounting events & develop past tense     



  • Semantics- the meaning of words and phrases, vocabulary knowledge, the relationships between words


Develop vocabulary within basic categories – clothing, furniture, food, transport etc


Teacher chooses a category – children take turns to think of a word within the category.

I spy something that is used for……  etc


  • Auditory Memory

Work on recall of 2, 3 and 4 instructions



  • Pragmatics – the process of using language socially and to convey feelings

Encourage Comment from children

*Tell me about…

*What did you do…?

Encourage children to request

*Tell your friend...

*What do you want?


*Ask me


Discuss feelings & facial expressions


  • Discourse- the ability to deal with language at the text level

When telling news use structure words in this order:

When.. Who… Where… What… Feelings


Cathy Marson

                                                            B.App.Sc. (SP) MSPA CPSP

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