An interview with... Anna Branagan and Stephen Parsons, Speech and Language Therapists
Firstly, I don't think we've ever been asked these questions before!
1) Your publications, Word Aware, Word Aware 2 and Language for Thinking have undoubtedly inspired thousands of teachers, but what was the turning point of inspiration to begin training and producing these resources?
Our motivation was because, as SaLTs, we wanted to have better resources. With LFT (Language for Thinking) we thought as long as we produced something that we would use in our everyday practice, we would be happy with that. That others like it too is a bonus. Word Aware was really seeing the vast number of children with vocabulary difficulties, that quite often teachers were aware of their students' needs, but that there was no approach to address the need.
2) What would your top tip be for teachers supporting parents in developing children’s language and communication skills from home?
Keep trying, be creative. Invite them in to make things with their child. Search 'nethermains' on Twitter and see how one Scottish school engages parents via social media.
3) Save The Children’s ‘Read On. Get On’ Campaign, launched in 2014, highlighted prevalent key points about early language development, with heavy emphasis on reading to improve vocabulary. Would you agree with this focus?
Reading is the number one way to an enriched vocabulary, but this assumes that children have adequate language to get started with reading. Many children learn to decode but do not have the language to access what they read. Also, developing strategies so the words that children read just don't stay on the page will develop their vocabulary faster.
Read The Link, Issue 7 here: https://www.speechlink.co.uk/thelink/index.php