UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Working with Children & Families from Diverse Communities with Speech, Language & Comm. Needs

Ref: TBC
Date:To be Confirmed
Venue:UCL Chandler House, Bloomsbury, London



This course aims to enable participants to

  • Have a better understanding about underlying theories of bilingual language development
  • Understand the requirements of working with children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) who are from bi/multilingual families within diverse communities
  • Adapt their working practice to better meet the needs of these children and their families.

And to

  • Give participants an opportunity to explore clinical problems using case studies.
  • Provide references for further reading and study

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this course, participants should

  • Know about collecting demographical information about their area;
  • Understand basic theories of simultaneous and sequential bilingual language development;
  • Understand factors that may affect second language acquisition and learning English as an additional language (EAL);
  • Understand why a child may mix and switch their languages;
  • Be able to identify formal and informal assessments suitable for bilingual clients;
  • Be able to distinguish between ‘less than perfect or slower learning of L2’ vs ‘possible symptoms of a potential language disorder in a child learning 2 languages;
  • Be able to take an additional case history to gather more information on language use at home and at school;
  • Know more about working with families;
  • Know more about working with interpreters;
  • Know how to identify components of delivering a ‘cultural competent’ service.

Programme Outline

9.30 - 9.45 Registration  

9.45 – 11.15 Getting to know your patch

Laying the foundations for understanding bilingual language development

Advantages of bi/multilingualism

Acquisition of an additional language and EAL

11.15 - 11.30 Coffee Break  
11.30 - 13.00 Identification and assessment of SLCN  
13.00 - 13.45 Lunch   

13.45 – 15.00 Intervention

Working with interpreters

Working with families

Achieving Cultural Competency

15.00 – 15.15 Tea Break  

15.15 – 16.30 Barriers and limitations/problem solving

Management & policy

Questions and Reflections

16.30 Close  


At the end of the course participants will receive a Certificate of Attendance.

Course tutors

DR. MERLE MAHON Associate Professor, Division of Psychology & Language Sciences, UCL.

Merle’s research focuses on bi/multilingualism, on deaf children's spoken language development and in particular, on how children learn spoken English when English is an additional language at home. Merle speaks English and Afrikaans. See UCL BiLingo for a current project.

SUNITA SHAH BSc (Hons) MRCSLT, HPC, MASLTIP Specialist SLT working with bilingual clients.

Sunita has been involved with developing practical resources for working with bilingual children and their families www.londonsigbilingualism.co.uk and has written books for children about Hinduism http://www.thejaijais.com . She is an advisor on Bilingualism for the Royal College Speech and Language Therapists. Sunita speaks Gujarati and English and is semi-fluent in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

This programme is provisional and subject to change. Participants will receive the final programme before the course begins.