Supporting Multilingual Children With Speech Pathologist and ECU Lecturer, Emily Hunt - TSH

Supporting Multilingual Children With Speech Pathologist and ECU Lecturer, Emily Hunt

In a compelling workshop at TSH, Emily Hunt, a Speech Pathologist and esteemed academic from Edith Cowan University, delivered an enlightening talk titled “Supporting Multilingual Children to Grow Their Home Language Skills.” With a blend of research and practical insights, Emily, who formerly worked at TSH, returned to shed light on the vital role of multilingualism in children’s development, particularly those with communication disorders.

The workshop debunked common myths that often discourage the support of multiple languages in children facing communication challenges, such as the misconception that learning more than one language is too daunting for them. Contrary to these beliefs, Emily presented compelling research that supports the benefits of multilingual upbringing, even for children with communication difficulties.

Workshop on Supporting Multilingual Children
Workshop on Supporting Multilingual Children

A key component of the session was a rich collection of strategies aimed at fostering language growth at home. Drawing from her role as the Deputy Chair of the Multilingual-Multicultural Affairs Committee of the International Association of Communication Science and Disorders, Emily provided invaluable resources.

These included a repository of common questions posed by parents and caregivers of bilingual or multilingual children, coupled with evidence-based answers available in various languages, addressing concerns across different aspects of multilingualism—from developmental language disorders to teaching in diverse classrooms.

 

Highlighting Australia’s rich linguistic diversity, with 24.8% of households speaking a language other than English, Emily emphasised that multilingualism is not an exception but a global norm. Her workshop not only equipped participants with the knowledge to support multilingual children effectively but also encouraged an inclusive approach to language development in educational and therapeutic settings.

As the world embraces cultural and linguistic diversity, Emily Hunt’s insights remind us of the unique strengths multilingual children bring to our communities and the crucial support they require to thrive.