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School of Health Sciences

Using personal narrative to target the linguistic skills of secondary school aged children with speech, language and communication difficulties


1st supervisor: Dr Lucy Dipper

2nd supervisor: Professor Victoria Joffe

Research centre

Language and Communication Science

Project description

Evidence suggests that a significant proportion of young people entering secondary schools have difficulties with speaking and listening (Conti-Ramsden et al 2001). Such language needs cause difficulties with everyday life and affect quality of life (Conti-Ramsden & Botting, 2008) and young people report that language difficulties prevent them from doing some activities, lead to misunderstandings and to lack of confidence speaking. A large proportion of everyday discourse is in the form of personal narratives such as recounting what one did at the weekend or exchanging views on a film, which is the topic of this study.

Some preliminary research in the field of adult language impairment underpins this proposal. This research indicates benefits from intervention based on the client telling a personal story, which is then linguistically analysed to identify language strengths and needs. Intervention can then incorporates evidence-based approaches for word (e.g. Joffe 2011 a) and sentence production (Ebbels et al 2007), integrated with proven programmes for narrative structure (e.g. Joffe 2011b)

The doctoral student will i) run a systematic literature search on narrative interventions used with school aged children; and ii) (building on pilot work already completed, existing training programmes, and the evidence base) design a personal narrative intervention programme to be delivered by teaching and support staff in schools over a standard school term.

Recommended Skills / Prior Learning

  1. Degree in a related area: speech and language therapy, linguistics (essential)
  2. Excellent communication and interviewing skills (essential)
  3. Prior experience of working with children with speech language and communication needs in this age-group (desirable)