At a time when “evidence based practice” is on the lips of practitioners and policy makers alike a new research network called a “COST ACTION” has just been funded across thirty six Europe and beyond. Entitled “Enhancing children’s oral language skills across Europe and beyond: a collaboration focusing on interventions for children with difficulties learning their first language. [IS1406]”
We estimate that language impairment affects 5.8 million children and young people across Europe. There is evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of intervention to improve the language skills of these children but this information is not well disseminated and services are inconsistent. A great many different academic and professional groups (eg. speech and language therapists, linguists, psychologists and pedagogs) support these children but these groups have never been brought together before to focus on intervention. There have been two previous COST Actions in the area – focusing on the diagnosis of Specific Language Impairment and on bilingualism but neither was devoted to the theoretical and practical issues associated with intervention and service delivery.
This “Action” as it is known will enhance the science in the field and improve the effectiveness of services for children with LI and develop a sustainable network of researchers well placed to answer the key questions in this area. The network will be an excellent opportunity for researchers and practitioners to come together to discuss the issues that matter, to look for patterns of practice across Europe and to take forward the evidence agenda. It will run for the next four years and will be made up of three working groups and what are known as “short term scientific missions” where researchers can go and work in departments elsewhere in the countries involved. The Working Groups are entitled:-
1. The linguistic and psychological underpinnings of interventions for Language Impairment;
2. The delivery of interventions for Language Impairment
3. The social and cultural context of intervention for children with Language Impairment.
The Action will place particular emphasis on the development of early stage researchers with an interest in research in this area.
The Action will be led by Professor James Law at Newcastle University in the UK and, at the moment has sixteen countries involved. It is early days yet but interested parties are invited to follow the development of the Action in Twitter (#COSTIS1406) and as the Action develops they will be able to communicate with intervention specialists across the Action countries, contribute to the Working Groups and attend the annual Action conferences.
Professor James Law