On 24 March 2016, the Department of English and Humanities organised an international conference on Language Acquisition, Impairment, and Intervention. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the conference aimed to bring together the practitioners working in related areas to have a consolidated understanding of the current practices, and the limitations in the context of Bangladesh with regard to language development and difficulties of Bangla-speaking children. The conference showcased invited papers in the areas of linguistics, education, neuroscience, and speech and language therapy.
The key speakers of the conference were Prof. Thomas Klee and Prof. Stephanie Stokes who are currently affiliated with the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Hong Kong. Prof. Klee and Prof. Stokes previously engaged themselves in teaching and research, and in establishing child language centres at several universities around the world some of which included the Newcastle University, UK and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. The speakers discussed the issues associated with the early identification of children with language difficulties, and how assessments were conducted crosslinguistically to determine children’s language development. The other invited speakers of the conference were the research groups working in Bangladesh who are involved in the assessment of children’s first language, and in the intervention process of children with language difficulties. The papers from Bangladesh included the research of the relevant teams from the ICDDR,B, Bangladesh Protibondhi Foundation, Dhaka Shishu Hospital, and the Institute of Education and Research, Dhaka University. The conference also proudly presented the research of two ENH students who worked on typical and atypical development of Bangla-speaking children.
The conference was well-attended with a large participation from linguists, speech and language therapists, school administrators, child caregivers, and students. The event was particularly significant to people working in related disciplines because platforms to explore these issues are extremely limited in Bangladesh. In addition, with regard to child language research, the resources available for Bangla are inadequate. A range of stardardised tests assessing various developmental abilities are still underway for Bangla, which makes it difficult to diagnose children accurately. There is a strong realisation among the researchers that a significant amount of language-specific research needed to be conducted before we could establish a comprehensive assessment and intervention framework to help Bangla-speaking children with a range of language difficulties. To this end, the conference opened possibilities for consolidating the existing work, and extending them to establish better resources for Bangla-speaking contexts.
By connecting to the wider community engaged in child language research, the Department of English and Humanities hopes to build meaningful collaborations with research organisations in Bangladesh as well as abroad, and inspire more students to pursue language acquisition research with Bangla-speaking children.
Keynote speaker Prof. Thomas Klee and Prof. Stephanie Stokes are delivering their lectures.