Short courses


Working with Children and Families from Diverse Communities with Speech, Language and Communication Needs

  • 6 hours
  • 1 day


This one-day course will help you adapt your working practice to better meet the needs of children with speech, language and communication needs who are from bi/multilingual families within diverse communities.

You'll learn about the underlying theories of bilingual language development and explore clinical problems using case studies.

This course is run by UCL's Division of Psychology and Language Sciences (PaLS).

Who this course is for

The course is aimed at professionals working with children and families from diverse communities with speech, language and communication needs.

Course content

Session 1: Getting to know your patch

  • Laying the foundations for understanding bilingual language development
  • Advantages of bi/multilingualism
  • Acquisition of an additional language and English as an additional language (EAL)

Session 2: Identification and assessment of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)

Session 3: Intervention

  • Working with interpreters
  • Working with families
  • Achieving cultural competency

Session 4: Barriers and limitations/problem solving 

  • Management and policy 
  • Questions and reflections


You'll receive a certificate of attendance at the end of the course.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you 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

Course team

Sunita Shah

Sunita Shah

Sunita is a specialist speech and language therapist working with bilingual clients. She's been involved with developing practical resources for working with bilingual children and their families and has written books for children about Hinduism. She's 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.

Dr Merle Mahon

Dr Merle Mahon

Merle is a Senior Lecturer in Developmental Science in the Division of Psychology & Language Sciences at UCL. Her research focuses on bi/multilingualism, deaf children's spoken language development and, in particular, on how children learn spoken English when English is an additional language at home. She speaks English and Afrikaans.

Course information last modified: 30 Nov 2022, 16:00