Improving Access to Language and Literacy


Improving Access to Language and Literacy

U.S. Department of Education grant addresses multicultural communication issues


Although almost 47 million people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home, a recent American Speech-Language-Hearing Association survey shows that only 8 percent of speech-language pathologists feel highly qualified to serve English language learners.

Complementing the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders' (CSD) focus on bilingual language development, the U.S. Department of Education recently awarded the department with a $249,551 Project Access to Language and Literacy (Project ALL) grant. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s office presented the grant to Professor Lisa Bedore, who will serve as principal investigator.

In the next five years, the grant will enhance training for 30 master's-level students with a specialization in multicultural speech-language pathology. Ultimately, the program seeks to increase the number of speech-language pathologists who can effectively provide services to culturally or linguistically diverse children at risk for poor literacy outcomes. It also seeks to train speech-language pathologists who can develop, implement and evaluate evidence-based practices.

"This is an important award for several reasons," said Craig Champlin, chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. "First, the grant emphasizes the ongoing need to develop speech-language pathologists with advanced competencies in bilingual language learning and literacy. Second, this underscores our continued leadership in preparing professionals with a specialization in multicultural speech-language pathology. Finally, the project provides both educational and financial support to students interested in pursuing careers as bilingual speech-language pathologists."

Students will learn to evaluate research findings on early learning outcomes and student achievement, as well as the effectiveness of service providers. They will develop knowledge and skills through collaboration, supervision, coursework in literacy and training in research design. Students also will complete internships that provide opportunities to participate in service delivery, program planning and program evaluation.

Project faculty include Professor Bedore; Professor Elizabeth Peña, Anita Perez, research associate; Mary Anne Nericcio, clinical assistant professor; and Jessica Franco, clinical assistant professor.

The Project ALL grant complements the department's Human Abilities in Bilingual Language Acquisition (HABLA) Lab and Language Learning and Bilingualism Lab. The HABLA Lab works to understand how bilingual speakers organize and access their two language systems, while the Language Learning and Bilingualism Lab works to understand how individual differences affect language, and specifically, vocabulary learning outcomes.

For more information, contact: Lauren Phillips, 512-471-2182 or Nick Hundley, 512-471-7209