UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


The evaluation of a novel conversation-focused therapy for agrammatism


Therapist researchers:Suzanne Beeke (UCL), Dr Wendy Best (UCL), Jane Maxim (UCL), Susan Edwards (Reading University) and Firle Cooper (SLT)
FunderThe Stroke Association

This project will develop and evaluate a new speech and language therapy (SLT) for a type of aphasia (agrammatism) that makes talking in sentences difficult. Current therapy for agrammatism develops sentence abilities in clinical situations, on tasks such as picture description. However, there is little evidence that this approach changes the sentences people with aphasia use in conversations at home. We believe that it is important to develop a new therapy for agrammatism that effects change in a speaker’s ability to construct utterances in natural conversation by working directly on conversational forms. The therapy will take its approach from interaction therapy, by adapting the SPPARC conversation training programme (Lock, Wilkinson and Bryan, 2001) to focus on grammar. We will recruit ten people with agrammatism plus a spouse/family member/friend of each, and assess (pre-and post-therapy) language using SLT tests, and conversation, using Conversation Analysis. We will provide therapy to (i) train the person with aphasia in strategies for constructing conversational grammar, and (ii) help the conversational partner to respond to these. The research design will allow us to assess the effectiveness of this therapy. The outcomes will be a new therapy programme and a series of detailed single case therapy studies.



  • Conversation Analysis and Aphasia Research

Beeke, S., Wilkinson, R. & Maxim, J., 2007, Grammar without sentence structure: a conversation analytic investigation of agrammatism. Aphasiology 21 (3/4) , 256-282

Beeke, S., Wilkinson, R. & Maxim, J., 2007, Using conversation analysis to assess and treat people with aphasia. Seminars in Speech and Language: Pragmatics and Adult Language Disorders 28 (2), 136-147.

Wilkinson, R., 1999, Introduction (to Special Issue on ConversationAnalysis). Aphasiology 13; 4-5, 251-258.

  • Conversation Analysis and Aphasia Intervention

Lock, S., Wilkinson, R. and Bryan, K., 2001, SPPARC (Supporting Partners of People with Aphasia in Relationships and Conversation): A Resource Pack(Bicester: Speechmark).