TalkTogether project examining child oral language development showcases latest research at 2021 Corpus Roundtable

Friday, October 22, 2021

Category: News

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TalkTogether is an international collaborative research project examining oral language development in young children in India and the Philippines. It is led by by Dr Sonali Nag at the Department of EducationUniversity of Oxford, alongside colleagues and co-leaders Prof Alis Oancea and Dr Joshua McGrane, both from the Department of Education, and Prof Maggie Snowling from the Department of Experimental Psychology.

Children with a small vocabulary are disadvantaged in all aspects of learning. Without targeted support, children who start slow will continue to fall behind their language-rich peers.

A powerful way to ensure all children are ready for learning, particularly in school, is to offer high quality oral language education early in a child’s life. TalkTogether is using research to inform the development of a range of resources to assist with this.

The 2021 virtual round table event aimed to understand the promise of child-directed print corpora for child language assessment, experimental research, and the development of children’s materials. It also discussed how corpora can support theorising on child language acquisition. Catering to a broad audience, the roundtable considered the usefulness of corpora for researchers, practitioners and their trainers, and curriculum developers.

For the TalkTogether team – comprising The Department of Education at the University of Oxford, the University of the Philippines, The Promise Foundation (India), the Interactive Children’s Literacy Programme (the Philippines) and Georgia State University (USA) – this event was a major showcase of research work conducted over 2020-21. Some 19 talks were given by 28 researchers from 9 countries, representing 10 universities and 1 NGO, and featuring 4 languages: Kannada, Filipino, English, and Malay.

The large audience, which included academics, teachers, NGO workers, curriculum developers and government officials, took part in lively and informative discussions. The open source protocols were of particular interest, and the aim is to encourage more such groups worldwide to replicate the research and use the resources to give a better start to disadvantaged children. Work is also in progress by TalkTogether to produce even more resources that will be available at the end of 2021.

Dr Sonali Nag summarised the emphasis on collaboration saying: “We have prioritised an approach that is multi-disciplinary, multi-method and multi-country. We are firmly committed to encourage local innovations and are sharing protocols to help groups not have to start from scratch.”

For more information and to see the event brochure please visit the TalkTogether website.

Watch the TalkTogether 2021 Corpus Roundtable on YouTube.

Partners and funders of TalkTogether