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The mainstream primary classroom as a language-learning environment for children with severe and persistent language impairment - implications of recent language intervention research

McCartney, Elspeth and Ellis, Sue and Boyle, James (2009) The mainstream primary classroom as a language-learning environment for children with severe and persistent language impairment - implications of recent language intervention research. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 9 (2). pp. 80-90. ISSN 1471-3802

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Abstract

Many UK children with severe and persistent language impairment (SLI) attend local mainstream schools. Although this should provide an excellent language-learning environment, opportunities may be limited by difficulties in sustaining time-consuming, child-specific learning activities; restricted co-professional working, and the complex classroom environment. Two language intervention studies in mainstream Scottish primary schools showed children with SLI receiving intervention from speech and language therapists (SLTs) or their assistants made more progress in expressive language than similar children receiving intervention from education staff. Potential reasons for this difference are sought in the amount of tailored language-learning activity undertaken; how actively school staff initiated contact with SLTs; and the language demands of the classroom. Tailored language learning appears to be a differentiating factor. A language support model, reflecting views of teachers and SLTs about encouraging language development for children with SLI within the ecology of the mainstream primary classroom, is also outlined.