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Published on August 9th, 2022


Multilingual Caseloads:
Clinical Perspectives from Pediatric SLPs and Areas of Future Research

“On April 1st, 2022, the Bilingual and Multilingual Development Lab (BAM!) from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto hosted their third annual workshop, Multilingual Caseloads: Clinical Perspectives from Pediatric SLPs, as part of a series on the topic of multilingual language development.

This event was organized by BAM! graduate student, Kai Ian Leung and lab director and Assistant Professor, Dr. Monika Molnar, with moderating support from BAM! graduate students Wenfu Bao, Maya Aharon and Emily Wood. This workshop series was developed to facilitate discussion on research concerning multilingual language and cognitive development. The intended audience is both the academic and clinical speech and language communities in Canada, in order help bridge research and practice. This year’s workshop centred on understanding clinician perspectives on the provision of Speech Language Pathology (S-LP) services for multilingual children in Canada and future areas of research to focus on based on clinical experiences providing intervention and assessment to multilingual children.

Featured speakers included Diane Dacquay, RSLP, S-LP(C), a Franco-Manitoban who spearheaded the Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine (DSFM) in 1994 as the sole speech-language pathologist (S-LP) who serviced 23 schools in various regions of the province. Her service was recently recognized as the winner of the 2020 SAC Mentorship Award. Diane’s co-presenter was fellow Franco-Manitoban S-LP, Rachel Lévesque, RSLP, S-LP(C), whose experience providing bilingual S-LP services, Augmentative and Alternative Communication implementation, and motor-speech planning in the school setting at the DSFM, spans 20 years. Diane and Rachel’s presentation outlined the S-LP’s role and clinical services in Manitoba’s bilingual school age population. They shared a tool kit for assessments in the second language (L2), primarily targeting the French and English language and the current intervention framework for DSFM bilingual students. They identified that areas of future research interest could focus on the development of objective screenings administered by a S-LP and translator for children’s first language (L1), in order to more fully understand and identify potential learning difficulties in the child’s L1. They also highlighted the importance of learning more about the benefits of retaining oral language development in the L2.

Our second presentation featured Dr. Fern Westernoff, Ed.D., M.H.Sc. Reg. CASLPO, currently a S-LP at the culturally and linguistically diverse Toronto District School Board. She is also the co-founder and co-leader of the OSLA Multicultural and Multilingual Interest Group. Fern provided insights on the bilingual experience and recent research regarding the benefits of being bilingual, including cognitive personal and familial benefits. She also spoke to the importance of maintaining and developing the home language and its impact professionally for the S-LP, also for a valid assessment of the home language. In her presentation, she highlighted the paradigm shift of clinicians’ moving from a historically deficit to an additive perspective of bilingualism, where S-LP services must be culturally and linguistically informed. Her discussion also accentuated the importance of being a communication advocate in informing and supporting clients in practice, as well as in the use of culturally and linguistically appropriate assessment and intervention.

Following the two presentations, a moderated roundtable discussion was held regarding key questions on the topic of multilingual caseloads, facilitated by graduate student and S-LP Emily Wood. Some of the themes we discussed with our speakers and audience included: what facilitators to positive change and hurdles remain in equitable service provision?  What questions clinicians have regarding preschool and school aged bi/multilingual language/literacy are clinically relevant and have not been addressed? How have our presenters’ views and practices changed in working with a multilingual caseload? An open question period and discussion was also held for attendees to interact amongst each other and with our presenters. The various video, text and assessment resources provided by the speakers and submitted by attendees are summarized in a live resource document, made openly available at the BAM! Lab website. To access the event recordings, view and contribute your own resources to share on live resource document, please visit: https://www.bamtoronto.ca/resources/bam-workshops

All in all, the event welcomed over 300 participants of S-LP clinicians, faculty, students and other stakeholders from across Canada. We would like to thank all participants, speakers and volunteers for their part in making this event a success. We would also like to thank the SSHRC for funding this event series.”

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