Speech & Language CPD

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Working with bilingual children and their families

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCDI61432
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This distance learning unit is aimed at SLTs working with bilingual children with speech and language difficulties and their families.  The unit explores the similarities and differences when working with clients acquiring two or more languages. Most speech and language therapists work with bilingual children but few feel confident in working in a language other than English. This unit will provide students with opportunities develop the clinical and professional knowledge and skills required to deliver an equitable service to this growing population.

Through seminar, problem based learning tasks utilising patient-based materials and interactive online eLearning modules, students will consider the following content:

  • Bilingualism in the UK, including languages spoken and related social and economic context.
  • Working with interpreters and bilingual assistants, translation issues, collecting speech (phonological) and language samples in other languages using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).
  • Evaluating speech and language development from a child-centred perspective and evaluating development across two or more languages, comparing bilinguals to normative data and the pitfalls of monolingual normative data, different methods of assessment including formal and informal assessment and their validity.
  • Evaluating language development and concepts of language dominance, mapping development onto practice, selecting which language to choose for assessment and therapy.
  • Codeswitching, inter- and intra-sentential codeswitching and the implications for assessment, therapy and identifying children with language impairments versus typically developing children.
  • Management in English language and other language medium schools (e.g. Welsh, Gaelic) in the UK.

Outcomes including sociolinguistic outcomes and the current evidence base.


The unit aims to:

  • Provide students with opportunities to extend their knowledge and understanding of speech, language and communication impairments in a bilingual* context.
  • Provide students with opportunities to develop awareness of the similarities and differences in the development of speech, language and communication skills in a bilingual family.
  • Provide students with opportunities to further develop their knowledge and skills around the clinical assessment for children who have speech, language and communication difficulties in a bilingual context.
  • Provide students with opportunities to gain knowledge and skills related to speech and language therapy intervention in a language one does not share with the client.
  • Provide students with opportunities to link theory and evidence to clinical decision making and critical evaluation of practice and client outcomes.
  • Provide students with opportunities to practise relevant clinical skills.
  • Provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding, to self and peer evaluate and to receive feedback from tutors.

*Bilingual here refers to the understanding or use of two or more languages, regardless of the level of proficiency. This is the definition used by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

Teaching and learning methods

Learning and teaching processes will primarily involve accessing eLearning resources and online support from the course tutor.  The eLearning content is based around three aspects of delivery:

1. Presentation of the content, including narrated presentations, text to read, images and diagrams, and video footage of both patients and professionals.

2. Interactive content including quizzes, case studies and matching activities.

3. Collaborative tasks. These include ‘Learning Journal Tasks’ which allow the student to access an online space where they can make a record of their reflections and findings and ‘Discussions’, which involve asking students to contribute to an online discussion forum, moderated by the online tutor.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of bilingual speech and language acquisition.
  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of the difference between diversity and disorder in terms of speech and language behaviours.
  • Describe and comment upon typical and atypical language development including codeswitching and speech sound acquisition across two or more languages.

Intellectual skills

  • Manage their own learning, and to make use of scholarly reviews and primary sources appropriate to the field.
  • Apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding.

Practical skills

  • Perform structured observation and accurate recording of speech, language and other information in a language other than English.
  • Administer and score relevant assessments and interpret scores in light of the client’s bilingualism to arrive at an equitable and accurate profile of the client’s speech, language and communication skills.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Effectively communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Exercise initiative and personal responsibility and demonstrate the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.
  • Reflect and comment on their own performance or work and that of a peer, identifying strengths and making constructive suggestions for improvement where appropriate.
  • Examine their own values and attitudes to service users and exercise a compassionate and respectful approach to practice.
  • Value and understand diversity in speech and language as well as culture and contrasting child rearing methods.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

A summative mark and detailed, individual tutor written feedback will be provided following the written assignment.

Throughout the unit, students will have the opportunity to self-evaluate their work and understanding against shared peer work, discussion and tutor written online model answers for case study activities.

Recommended reading

Baker, C. (2000). The care and education of young bilinguals: an introduction for professionals. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech (2012). Multilingual children with speech sound disorders: Position paper. Retrieved from http://www.csu.edu.au/research/multilingual-speech/position-paper Accessed 20th January 2018.

McLeod, S. (Ed.). (2007). The International guide to speech acquisition. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.

Myers-Scotton, C. (2005). Multiple voices: an introduction to bilingualism (First Edition ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Pert, S., & Letts, C. (2006). Codeswitching in Mirpuri speaking Pakistani heritage preschool children: Bilingual language acquisition. International Journal of Bilingualism, 10(3), 349-374.

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (2018). Clinical Guidelines: Bilingualism. Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Retrieved from https://www.rcslt.org/clinical_resources/bilingualism/bilingualism_overview Accessed 01/05/2018.

Stow, C., & Dodd, B. (2003). Providing an equitable service to bilingual children in the UK: a review. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 38(4), 351-377.

Stow, C., & Pert, S. (2015). RCSLT Position Papers. Best Practice - SLT Assessment and Intervention: Best practice for children and young people in bilingual settings - and in particular Gaelic Medium Education (GME). London:  Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

Zhu Hua, & Dodd, B. (Eds.). (2006). Phonological development and disorders in children. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sean Pert Unit coordinator

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