International aspirations for speech-language pathologists' practice with multilingual children with speech sound disorders: Development of a position paper

International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children's Speech

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38 Scopus citations


A major challenge for the speech-language pathology profession in many cultures is to address the mismatch between the "linguistic homogeneity of the speech-language pathology profession and the linguistic diversity of its clientele" ( Caesar & Kohler, 2007, p. 198). This paper outlines the development of the Multilingual Children with Speech Sound Disorders: Position Paper created to guide speech-language pathologists' (SLPs') facilitation of multilingual children's speech. An international expert panel was assembled comprising 57 researchers (SLPs, linguists, phoneticians, and speech scientists) with knowledge about multilingual children's speech, or children with speech sound disorders. Combined, they had worked in 33 countries and used 26 languages in professional practice. Fourteen panel members met for a one-day workshop to identify key points for inclusion in the position paper. Subsequently, 42 additional panel members participated online to contribute to drafts of the position paper. A thematic analysis was undertaken of the major areas of discussion using two data sources: (a) face-to-face workshop transcript (133 pages) and (b) online discussion artifacts (104 pages). Finally, a moderator with international expertise in working with children with speech sound disorders facilitated the incorporation of the panel's recommendations. The following themes were identified: definitions, scope, framework, evidence, challenges, practices, and consideration of a multilingual audience. The resulting position paper contains guidelines for providing services to multilingual children with speech sound disorders ( The paper is structured using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: Children and Youth Version ( World Health Organization, 2007) and incorporates recommendations for (a) children and families, (b) SLPs' assessment and intervention, (c) SLPs' professional practice, and (d) SLPs' collaboration with other professionals.Learning outcomes: Readers will 1. recognize that multilingual children with speech sound disorders have both similar and different needs to monolingual children when working with speech-language pathologists. 2. Describe the challenges for speech-language pathologists who work with multilingual children. 3. Recall the importance of cultural competence for speech-language pathologists. 4. Identify methods for international collaboration and consultation. 5. Recognize the importance of engaging with families and people within their local communities for supporting multilingual children in context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-387
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The major author, Sharynne McLeod, received financial support from the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to prepare the manuscript. The co-authors of this manuscript are employed by their respective institutions and have no relevant financial or nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

Funding Information:
The development of this position statement was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT0990588) titled: Speaking my Languages: International Speech Acquisition in Australia awarded to Sharynne McLeod. The members of the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children's Speech who have consented for their names to be added to these acknowledgments are: Conveners : Sharynne McLeod (chair) (Charles Sturt University, Australia), Sarah Verdon (Charles Sturt University, Australia). Moderator : Caroline Bowen (Macquarie University, Australia and University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). Face-to-face panel: Penelope Bacsfalvi (University of British Columbia, Canada), Kate Crowe (Charles Sturt University, Australia; National Acoustic Laboratories, Australia), Barbara Davis (The University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA), Anne Hesketh (The University of Manchester, UK), Nancy Scherer (East Tennessee State University, TN, USA), Jane Speake (University of Sheffield, UK; Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, UK), Seyhun Topbaş (Anadolu Üniversitesi, Turkey), Karla N. Washington (University of Cincinnati, OH, USA), A. Lynn Williams (East Tennessee State University, TN, USA), Yvonne Wren (North Bristol Trust/University of the West of England, UK), Krisztina Zajdó (The University of West Hungary, Hungary), Natalia Zharkova (Queen Margaret University, Scotland, UK). Online contributors and supporters: Elise Baker (The University of Sydney, Australia), Martin J. Ball (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, LA, USA), Elaine Ballard (University of Auckland, New Zealand), Avivit Ben David (Hadassah Academic College and Tel-Aviv University, Israel), B. May Bernhardt (University of British Columbia, Canada), Mirjam Blumenthal (Royal Dutch Kentalis, The Netherlands), Françoise Brosseau-Lapré (McGill University Health Centre, Canada), Ferenc Bunta (University of Houston, TX, USA), Madalena Cruz-Ferreira (Freelance Linguist, Singapore), Jan Edwards (University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI, USA), Annette Fox-Boyer (European University of Applied Sciences EUAS, Rostock, Germany), Ellen Gerrits (HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, The Netherlands), Christina Gildersleeve-Neumann (Portland State University, OR, USA), Brian A. Goldstein (La Salle University, PA, USA), Helen Grech (University of Malta, Malta), David Ingram (Arizona State University, AZ, USA), Minjung Kim (California State University-Fullerton, CA, USA), Ghada Khattab (University of Newcastle, UK), Kathryn Kohnert (University of Minnesota, MN, USA), Sari Kunnari (University of Oulu, Finland), Rebekah Lockart (Macquarie University and Royal North Shore Hospital, Australia), Brenda Louw (East Tennessee State University, TN, USA), Jane McCormack (Charles Sturt University, Australia), Andrea A. N. MacLeod (Université de Montréal, Canada), Stefka H. Marinova-Todd (University of British Columbia, Canada), Þóra Másdóttir (The National Hearing and Speech Institute, Iceland; University of Iceland, Iceland), Ineke Mennen (ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice, Bangor University, Wales, UK), Vesna Mildner (University of Zagreb, Croatia), Ben Munson (University of Minnesota, MN, USA), Sandra Neumann (University of Cologne, Germany, Juelich Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-3), Germany), Michelle Pascoe (University of Cape Town, South Africa), Sue Peppé (Independent scholar, Scotland, UK), Raúl F. Prezas (Texas Christian University, TX, USA), Raúl Rojas (University of Texas at Dallas, TX, USA), Yvan Rose (Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada), Tuula Savinainen-Makkonen (University of Oulu, Finland), Carol Stoel-Gammon (University of Washington, WA, USA), Carol Kit Sum To (University of Hong Kong, SAR China), Cori J. Williams (Curtin University, Perth, Australia), Mehmet Yavaş (Florida International University, FL, USA).


  • Cultural and linguistic diversity
  • Cultural competence
  • Multilingual, bilingual
  • Phonology
  • Speech sound disorder


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