Developing a bilingual sentence imitation task for Polish-English children

This placement falls within the areas of speech and language therapy, developmental psychology and linguistics. It will contribute to piloting a new Polish-English sentence repetition task with bilingual Polish-English school-aged children. It will involve recruiting children, collecting data, logging data into a database, and analysing data.

Department: Psychology, Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences

Supervised by: Theo Marinis

The Placement Project

Sentence repetition (SR) tasks have been shown to be very good at identifying monolingual (L1) children with language impairment (Conti-Ramsden, et al. 2001). However, it is unclear whether or not this holds also for sequential bilingual (L2) children. Chiat, et al. (submitted) reported very low specificity for L2 children using the SR task from Conti-Ramsden et al. 70% of these children performed within the clinical range. Using this test to assess L2 children may result in inappropriate diagnosis of language impairment. To avoid misdiagnosis of L2 children, the Royal College for Speech and Language Therapists recommends that L2 children be assessed in both of their languages. However, to date there are no assessments of the L1 of L2 children and no L2 norms for most English language assessments. This project aims to fill this gap by using a new bilingual task with a group of 20 6-to-7-year-old Polish-English children. We will pilot this bilingual SR task with school-aged Polish-English children, calculating the specificity of the English version, and we will start creating L2 norms for the English and Polish versions. This project is in collaboration with Shula Chiat (City University London) and Ewa Haman (Warsaw University). The English version was developed in 2010 through a UROP placement and shows high inter-item (0.91) and split-half reliability (0.93). We are currently creating a Polish version parallel to the English version, which will be ready by the start of this placement.


Week 1: preparing a Powerpoint file to be used for the data collection and recruitment of children; Week 2: recruitment of children and start data collection; Weeks 3 and 4: Data collection and transcription; Weeks 5 and 6: scoring in a database, and conduct data analyses.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Essential: computer literate, use of Word and Powerpoint, good interpersonal skills, experience in interacting with children. The student has to be CRB checked. Some experience in using excel would be a plus, but it is not essential. Most of the data collection will take place on campus. If some children cannot come to the University, the student will have to travel within Reading for the data collection. Insurance cover will be arranged.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

This placement will offer a high impact learning opportunity for the student by developing a range of different discipline specific and transferable skills. Discipline specific skills: the student will develop skills and gain experience in how to administer and score language tests, and how to transcribe data. These skills are crucial for speech and language therapists and very useful for psychologists and linguists. This placement will enable the student to develop them in a relatively short period of time over the summer. Transferable skills: The student will gain experience in using excel to input and analyse data. This is a transferable skill and is useful in any profession. The student will also develop interpersonal skills through liaising with parents and children to book appointments for testing. The placement is likely to lead to second/third authorship for the student on any publications resulting from the research.

Place of Work

School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, Room 203

Hours of Work


Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 07 November 2011 - Unknown

How to Apply

Students should provide a CV and a covering letter to Theo Marinis outlining their motivation for the placement and the relevant skills and experience they will bring to the project. They should also put a statement as to whether they have CRB clearance. Deadline for applications is the 21st of April. Short listed candidates will be interviewed on the 3rd of May.

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