Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Developmental Speech Spoken Language and Written Language Disorders

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Communication Therapy

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will equip students with basic theoretical knowledge of specific language impairment, including speech sound disorders and written language difficulties. It will encourage students to apply this knowledge to the management of children presenting with language difficulties that do not appear secondary to an overriding condition.

Study-unit Aims:

- To provide students with a knowledge of disordered development of speech and language skills;
- To create an awareness of the implications of speech and language difficulties for a child’s development in different areas;
- To introduce different approaches to the identification, classification and description of speech sound disorders, specific (verbal) language impairment (SLI) and written language disorders;
- To create an awareness of the importance of integrating linguistic and non-linguistic information in the assessment, diagnosis and management of speech and language difficulties;
- To prepare students for professional practice by exploring the role of the Speech-Language Pathologist in the identification, assessment and management of children with specific speech and language difficulties.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- understand the implications of breakdown in the development of typical speech and language skills;
- appreciate the controversies related to terminology in the field of speech sound disorders, specific (verbal) language impairment (SLI) and written language disorders;
- critically appraise various models for classifying manifestations of Speech sound disorders, specific (verbal) language impairment (SLI) and written language disorders and recognise the advantages and disadvantages of classification;
- understand and recognise the epidemiological, medical, auditory/perceptual, neurological, cognitive, behavioural and environmental factors associated with these disorders of communication;
- appreciate formal and informal assessment procedures for identification and description;
- understand principles of intervention related to speech sound disorders, specific (verbal) language impairment (SLI) and written language disorders.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- identify relevant assessment routes according to age group and presenting speech and language deficits;
- recognise factors that point towards the diagnosis of a transient or persistent speech sound disorders, specific (verbal) language impairment (SLI) and written language disorders;
- employ decision-making procedures in the management of children with speech sound disorders, specific (verbal) language impairment (SLI) and written language disorders.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Developmental Speech Disorders

- Adams, C., Byers Brown, B. & Edwards, M. (1997). Developmental Disorders of Language (2nd edition). London: Whurr Pub. (particularly Ch.5).
- Dodd, B. (2005). The Differential Diagnosis and Treatment of Children with Speech Disorder. (2nd Edition). London: Whurr Pub.
- Grech, H. & Mcleod, S. (2011). “Multilingual Speech & Language Development” in D. Battle (4th ed.). Communication Disorders in Multicultural Populations. Elsevier, US.
- Grech, H. (2011). “The Speech of Multilingual Children in Malta”. in Translation to Practice: Phonological Analysis. Multilingual Matters. S. McLeod & B. Goldstein.
- Grech, H. (2007). “Maltese Speech Acquisition” in S. McLoed (Ed.). The International Guide to Speech Acquisition. Delmar Thomson Learning Australia.
- Grech, H. (2006). Phonological development of Maltese-speaking children. In Zhu, H. and Dodd, B. (Ed.), Phonological Development and Disorders: A Multilingual Perspective. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
- Grech, H. (1999). Phonological development of Maltese speaking children: Implications for Assessment and Intervention. Proceedings of the 24th IALP Congress. The Netherlands: Nijmegen University Press. (also on
- Grech, H. and Hesketh, A. (1996). Conventions applicable in transcription and analysis of speech of children exposed to a bilingual environment. Journal of the Israeli Speech, Hearing & Language Association, 19, 255-268.
- Howell, J. & Dean E. (1991).Treating Phonological Disorder in Children. Metaphon Theory and Practice. FAR. Communication Disorders Series.
- McLeod, S. & Baker, E.(2017). Children's Speech: An Evidence-Based Approach to Assessment and Intervention.Boston: Pearson.

Specific Language Impairment

- Adams, C., Byers Brown, B. and Edwards, M. (1997) Developmental Disorders of Language (2nd ed.) Whurr: London.
- Chiat, S. (2000) Understanding Children with Language Problems. Cambridge: CUP.
- Chiat, S., Law, J. and Marshall, J. (1997) (eds.) Language Disorders in Children and Adults. Whurr: London.
- Joffe, V., Cruice, M. and Chiat, S. (2008) Language Disorders in Children and Adults: New issues in research and practice. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
- Kaderavek, J.N. (2011) Language Disorders in Children: Fundamental concepts of assessment and intervention. New Jersey: Pearson Education.
- Lees, J. and Urwin, S. (1997) Children with Language Disorders (2nd ed) Whurr: London.
- Leonard, L.B. (2014) Children with Specific Language Impairment. (2nd ed.). MIT Press: Cambridge.
- Norbury, C.F., Tomblin, J.B. and Bishop, D.V.M. (2008) Understanding Developmental Language Disorders: From theory to practice. Hove: Psychology Press.
- Paul, R. (ed.) (2007) Language Disorders from a Developmental Perspective: Essays in honour of Robin S. Chapman. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
- Schwartz, R.G. (ed.) (2008) Handbook of Child Language Disorders. Hove: Psychology Press.

Written Language disorders books

- Bialystok , E. (2001) Bilingualism in Development: Language, Literacy and Cognition. Cambridge University Press.
- Durgunoglu, A.Y. and Verhoeven, L. (Eds.) (1998) Literacy development in a multilingual context. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
- Goulandris, N. (Ed) (2003) Dyslexia in different languages: Cross-linguistic comparison. London and Philadelphia: Whurr Publishers.
- McBride, C. (2016). Children’s literacy development. A cross-cultural perspective on learning to read and write. 2nd ed. International texts in developmental psychology. Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group.
- Peer, L (2000) Multilingualism literacy and dyslexia : A challenge for educators. David Fulton Publishers.
- Snowling, M. and Stackhouse, J. (Eds.) (2001) Dyslexia: speech and language. A practitioner’s handbook. London: Whurr Publishers Ltd.
- Stackhouse, J. and Wells, B. (1997) Children’s Speech and Literacy Difficulties 1 – A psycholinguistic framework. Whurr Publishers Ltd.
- Stackhouse, J. and Wells, B. (1997) Children’s Speech and Literacy Difficulties 2 – Identification and Intervention. Whurr Publishers Ltd.

Written Language Disorders - Journal articles

- Aro, M., and Wimmer, H. (2003) Learning to read: English in comparison to six more regular orthographies. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24(4), 621-635.
- Catts, H.W., Gillispie, M., Leonard, L.B., Kail, R.V., Miller, C.A. (2003). The role of speed of processing, rapid naming, and phonological awareness in reading achievement. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35(6): 510 – 525.
- Ciscero, C. and Royer, J. (1995). The development and cross-language transfer of phonological awareness. Cotemporary Educational Psychology, 20: 275-303.
- Kamhi, A.G. and Catts, H.W. (1986). Toward an understanding of developmental language and reading disorders. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 51: 337-347.
- Peer, L. (1999). Dyslexia and multilingualism. Dyslexia, 5: 53-55.
- Snowling, M.J., Goulandris, N. and Defty, N. (1996). A longitudinal study of reading development in dyslexic children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88 (4): 653 – 669.
- Torgesen, J.K., Wagner, R.K. and Rashotte, C.A. (1994). Longitudinal studies of phonological processing and reading. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 27: 276-286.
- Wagner, R. K., Torgeson, J. K., Laughon, P. L., Simmons, K. and Rashotte, C. A. (1993). Development of young readers' phonological processing abilities. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85: 83-103.
- Wimmer, H. (1993). Characteristics of developmental dyslexia in a regular writing system. Applied Psycholinguistics, 14: 1-34.
- Wimmer, H. (1996). The nonword reading deficit in developmental dyslexia: Evidence from children learning to read German. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 61: 80-90.
- Wimmer, H. and Goswami, U (1994). The influence of orthographic consistency in reading development: Word recognition in English and German children. Cognition, 51: 91 -103.
- Xuereb, R. (2009). Literacy skills in Maltese-English Bilingual Children. Journal of Reading in Research, 32(3), 327-348.
- Xuereb, R, Grech, H. & Dodd, B. (2011). The development of a literacy diagnostic tool for Maltese children. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 25(5), 379-398.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 33%
Assignment SEM1 Yes 33%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 33%

LECTURER/S Rachael Agius
Daniela R. Gatt
Helen Grech
Bianca Michela Said
Cristina Zammit

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