Relationship between Indigenous Children’s Hearing and Phonological Awareness

Workshop Speakers: Distinguished Professor Katherine Demuth (Macquarie University), Professor Gillian Wigglesworth (University of Melbourne), Dr Anna Stephen (University of Melbourne), Associate Professor Mridula Sharma (Macquarie University)
Workshop Speakers: Distinguished Professor Katherine Demuth (Macquarie University), Professor Gillian Wigglesworth (University of Melbourne), Dr Anna Stephen (University of Melbourne), Associate Professor Mridula Sharma (Macquarie University)

On 8 March 2017 a Workshop was held at Macquarie University on the ‘Relationship between Indigenous Children’s Hearing and Phonological Awareness in Remote Communities in the Northern Territory’

Many of the current interventions to address conductive hearing loss in Aboriginal children living remotely focus on sound amplification. While this is important, a better understanding of the influence of a child’s native language and auditory listening skills  is also critical for improving children’s language and literacy outcomes. To do this, studies with larger sample sizes from different types of Aboriginal communities are needed.

The workshop outlined a program of research aimed at exploring the relationship between children’s phonological awareness and hearing/listening status from communities in East and West Arnhem Land and Central Australia. It described 6-8-year-olds’ levels of hearing loss, auditory processing, phonological awareness and other risk factors (for language acquisition and literacy) across communities.

The findings will provide evidence-based advice for teachers and parents to enhance the language and literacy skills of Aboriginal children with conductive hearing loss. It is hoped that the results will be used as a translational guide for the iHearing Program  (NT Department of Health), facilitating the development of more appropriate resources and programs to enhance Aboriginal children’s learning of English as a second language.

Distinguished Professor Katherine Demuth