03 – Keynote 3 – Research in diverse linguistic and cultural contexts

Presentation - ECV2022-Keynote 3

Research in diverse linguistic and cultural contexts

Barbara May Bernhardt, Professor Emerita, School of Audiology and Speech Sciences, University of British Columbia, Canada (bernharb@mail.ubc.ca)
Joseph Paul Stemberger, Professor Emeritus, Department of Linguistics, University of British Columbia, Canada (joseph.stemberger@ubc.ca)

Biographies: Barbara May Bernhardt, PhD, Professor Emerita, was professor of speech-language pathology from 1990–2017 at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and a speech-language pathologist from 1972–2017. Her research has focused on children’s speech development, assessment and intervention, general language development, and service delivery to First Nations peoples. With Dr. Stemberger and international colleagues, she has been conducting a crosslinguistic study in children’s speech development.

Joseph Paul Stemberger, PhD, Professor Emeritus, was professor of linguistics from 1985–2001 at the University of Minnesota and at the University of British Columbia from 2001–2018. His primary research foci are children’s speech (and morphological) development and adult language processing. With Dr. Bernhardt and international colleagues, he has been conducting a crosslinguistic project in children’s speech development. Leisure activities involve family time, gardening, music, dance, and the outdoors.

Background: Research and educational/speech therapy practices growing out of one’s own cultural, linguistic contexts may be relevant in those contexts but irrelevant/ineffective in other environments because of differences across languages/cultures.

Aim: The aims of our speech development research have been to: (1) determine similarities and differences in children’s speech development across languages/cultures; and (2) develop speech assessment and treatment strategies that pertain to diverse cultural and linguistic groups.

Method: We have been fortunate in finding researcher partners in different communities and countries. With these partners, we developed methods for collecting and analysing speech samples from children and adults that reflect diverse languages/dialects/cultures. The partners collected the data, which we are jointly analysing. 

Results: Children’s speech development shows many similarities across languages and cultures, not just in terms of speech sounds (like “k”, “s” or “r”), but also in how words are formed (their length and their structure, i.e., whether syllables have endings, whether two consonant sounds can occur in a row). Some children learn certain sounds earlier than others because of the importance of those sounds in their language, family or environment and/or the words in which the sound appears. A project website (phonodevelopment.sites.olt.ubc.ca) was created that contains free assessment materials and criterion reference data from the project, plus speech treatment activity examples in several languages, the fun-ological aspect of speech (phon-ological) research. 

Implications for children and families: You will be able to state one similarity and one difference in children’s speech development across languages/cultures, plus one fun-ological way to play with speech.

Implications for practitioners: You will walk away with at least three strategies for working successfully in diverse linguistic and cultural communities plus one fun-ological activity. 

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grants 410-2009-0348, 611-2012-0164; local funding, other countries

Key words: Indigenous voices, communication, crosslinguistic, cross-cultural, research partnerships, education, health, vulnerable communities, regional/rural communities, international communities, speech development, phonological development, fun-ology 

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: 

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