UC Science Radio Season 2: Episode 12
Catherine Sivertsen: Developing language for learning
We know language development predicts learning outcomes at primary school, so how do we give our tamariki the best chance to succeed?
Catherine Sivertsen wants to get the world excited about language and is encouraging parents and educators to give the gift of words.
A Speech and Language Therapist and Master's student in the School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing, Catherine is passionate about improving language development as a prerequisite to literacy. Her research looks into the variables that impact on child language development in a New Zealand context.
In this episode
1.17 I'm specifically looking at what are some of the variables that impact on child language development, and particularly within a New Zealand context, to give us some up-to-date and relevant research for our own country.
1.51 my research is looking at kindergarten teachers in New Zealand and what are their beliefs about language development and what are their practices?
3.11 how many words a child has when they start school is actually directly related to how they might do at school four years later.
4.14 the best way to think of language is that it's a really cognitive process and it requires so many incredible skills, and again there's a whole science of learning to read. But one of those skills is you need to understand the words and the world around you.
5.15 children need all this beautiful wealth of language as a foundation for them in order to be able to go and learn to read, and to read well.
5.58 traditionally, if you look at the Western lens of research, it has just taken one focus, and that tends to be the predominant Western lens. Whereas in New Zealand, we're so fortunate that we have a much wider perspective.
8.33 teachers were seeing more and more children who were coming into kindergarten without the words behind them, not the vocabulary, and not the understanding of communication. So, that was really the motivating factor.
9.59 it's just exciting doing something new, I guess, discovering new things and you know, the essence of science, we're wanting to find out understand the world around us.
10.50 because it's one of those things that we tend to take for granted – "Oh yeah everyone talks, you know” – we don't really give it the mana that it deserves.
10.54 in an ideal world, that the world would get really excited about language and give it a lot of mana, therefore we'd be able to help grow language in our children and young people.
Read a transcript of the full interview.
Meet our speakers
Catherine is a Master’s student and Speech and Language Therapist, supporting children to develop speech and language. She is passionate about improving child language development as a prerequisite to literacy.
"In an ideal world, the world would get really excited about language and give it a lot of mana, and therefore we'd be able to help grow language in our children and young people."
Molly Magid is an MSc student at UC. A recent graduate of Brown University, Molly is working on research in conservation genomics with Associate Professor Tammy Steeves from the School of Biological Sciences. Molly is passionate about finding ways to communicate science to the public in a clear, novel, and engaging ways. Most recently, Molly worked as the lead student producer on the podcast Possibly, which answers listener's questions about sustainability using relevant science research.