Language Intervention Project
Alongside the work of LETS Go! UK Becky is currently conducting a research project for her PhD at University College London into the expressive language skills of children with Down syndrome as this is reported to be a specific area of difficulty for this population.
The research involves evaluating a 10 week language intervention specifically targeting the use of past tense. The intervention is carried out in school by teaching assistants in daily 20 min sessions. The teaching assistants receive 1 day training on the intervention, an intervention manual as well as fortnightly visits from Becky and ongoing email/phone support.
The research project is a randomised control trial (RCT) and therefore the children are randomly allocated to one of two groups: Group 1 The Intervention Group; Group 2 The Waiting Control Group. All children will receive the intervention, Group 1 receive the intervention in the spring term and Group 2 receive the intervention in the summer term.
52 schools have signed up for the programme and worked hard on the daily activities. Schools have participated from Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Berkshire.
Details of the project:
Evaluating a language intervention for children with Down syndrome.
Many children with Down syndrome have specific difficulties with expressive language – being able to put sentences together and use grammar accurately. One of the areas reported to be a specific difficulty for children with Down syndrome is the use of regular past tense for example jumped, splashed, brushed. Children with Down syndrome are reported to have visual learning strengths with the suggestion that learning from looking has benefits when teaching children with Down syndrome.
This project aims to evaluate whether a language intervention targeting the use of the regular past tense using visual strategies can be effective. The intervention is delivered by trained teaching assistants in daily 20 minute sessions over 10 weeks.
Participants aged 7-11 years will be recruited across Hampshire and the surrounding borders over a two year period. Participants will be randomly allocated to the intervention group or the waiting control group. Children will be assessed on a selection of standardised and bespoke measures at 3 time points to evaluate the effects of the intervention: 1) before the intervention; 2) after 10 weeks when the intervention group have received the intervention; and 3) after 20 weeks when the waiting control group have received the intervention.
Benefits for participants:
Children taking part will have practice in understanding and using regular past tense in a range of activities including storytelling, retelling personal events, picture description. They will experience how to use past tense when talking about themselves and others. In addition they will have practice writing, learning letter sounds and word reading. All of the skills practiced in the intervention are important skills for language, communicating, friendships and literacy.
All data will be collected and stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. This study has been approved by UCL Research Ethics Committee Project ID No: 6602/001