Enhancing children's oral language skills across Europe and beyond - A collaboration focusing on interventions for children with difficulties learning their first language

A practitioner survey developed by members of COST Action IS1406

Dear Colleague,

This practitioner survey has been designed by members of COST Action IS1406 to enable us to document how professionals understand the needs of children with Language Impairment and how those needs are being met across Europe.

The survey should be completed by professionals with a specific responsibility for managing and providing the intervention for children with language impairment.

The survey is designed in four sections. The first is some information about you. The second addresses service delivery issues, the third deals with theoretical considerations, and the fourth deals with social and cultural issues and their relationship to the management of the child with language impairment. Please answer every question. We estimate that the questionnaire should take no more than 30 minutes to complete.

Please remember when filling the questionnaire in, that it is very important that you answer these questions from your direct experience and that there are no right or wrong answers.

The analysis of the data will be entirely anonymous. The survey has received external ethical approval from the Ethics Committee of Newcastle University in the UK (the University of the Chair of the Management Committee). If you would like a record of this process please ask us.

We are very well aware that definitions matter and that these may differ from country to country. So, we have included some definitions below to show you the focus of the questionnaire. These definitions were agreed by members of the Action.

Thank you for your help in completing this survey.

We will put a summary of the findings of the survey on our Action website http://research.ncl.ac.uk/costis1406/

James Law (UK)
Chair of the Management Committee of COST Action IS1406

Working Group 1
David Saldaña (Spain)
Carol-Anne Murphy (Ireland)

Working Group 2
Ellen Gerrits (Netherlands)
Cristina McKean (UK)

Working Group 3
Seyhun Topbaş (Turkey)
Elín Þöll Þórðardóttir (Iceland)

Some definitions agreed at the first Management Committee meeting of Cost Action IS1406

What is language impairment?

Language Impairment (LI) occurs when the child's language skills are judged to be significantly delayed relative to those of children of the same age. This judgement is usually made by means of a combination of formal assessment, observations of linguistic performance and professional judgement. The focus of COST Action IS1406 is the child with difficulties learning their first language and specifically the child with Primary Language Impairment. LI does not occur because a child uses more than one language. A bilingual or multilingual child may experience LI, but this would normally be in each of the languages concerned. The emphasis of COST Action IS1406 is on oral language rather than any alternative or augmentative language systems. LI is often described as being either primary or secondary. By Primary Language Impairment we mean that the cause of the language problem is unexplained (although there may be other comorbid conditions such a behaviour problems, conductive hearing loss, fine motor difficulties, attention problems etc.). Secondary Language impairment occurs when the child’s difficulty is associated with a broader condition (e.g. cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder etc.). 

What do we mean by intervention?

Intervention for children identified as having Language Impairment (LI) is a set of practices which are specifically designed to promote language development and/or to remove barriers to participation in society which arise from a child’s LI. Assessment of eligibility for intervention includes a combination of standardised assessment (where available), observations of linguistic and communicative performance, and professional judgement. Intervention is usually time limited, with initial assessment to determine eligibility and later assessment to measure the outcome of the intervention. Intervention for children with LI can be delivered by any professional group, but this usually involves input from language specialists. Who these specialists are varies between countries but may include speech and language therapists or teachers, clinical linguists, psychologists or others. Intervention may be carried out directly by the specialist professionals themselves or through proxies such as parents, teachers, or teaching assistants. Intervention for children with Language Impairment can be delivered in a variety of settings: e.g. the home, health provision, early years setting (nursery/school), school or private practices.