1808 ADAPTING LANGUAGE AND SPEECH DEVELOPMENT TOOLS FOR ISIXHOSA-SPEAKING CHILDREN
Emma Whitelaw, UCT Masters student and Mandela Rhodes Scholar, and Primrose Mwrebi, journalist and poet
In this lunchtime conversation, journalist Primrose Mwrebi interviews UCT Masters student and Mandela Rhodes Scholar Emma Whitelaw who is researching the speech of isiXhosa-speaking toddlers. Whitelaw’s research will provide an important tool, called a Communicative Development Inventory, for South African speech therapists to use in clinical settings.
Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs) are checklists completed by parents who answer questions about a child’s receptive and expressive communicative abilities. CDIs are necessary since speech and communication difficulties can impair academic success and the development of literacy skills as well as increase children’s susceptibility to low self-esteem and bullying. Although there has been research on child acquisition of isiXhosa, speech and language assessment tools have not been developed specifically for children who speak this language. Currently isiXhosa-speaking children are assessed using culturally and linguistically inappropriate English tools. The pre-pilot phase of Whitelaw’s research has also shown how the lexicon of isiXhosa may be changing or evolving.