Inter-professional collaboration to create functional word lists for languages of the South Pacific

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Cultural and linguistic diversity provide unique environments that shape communication learning opportunities for children in South Pacific (SP) nations (e.g., Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, etc.). However, we know very little about the acquisition of indigenous, or exogenous, languages of these nations. Much of the knowledge concerning children’s communication in the SP is held by communication specialists outside of the speech-language pathology field. Creation of tools to explore children’s language development is required.
Aim: To present a method for creating culturally and linguistically valid expert consensus functional word lists for languages of the SP.
Method: Communication experts in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu were identified via literature search and referral from country contacts already known by the author due to her 10+ years of work in the SP. The author conducted interviews with communication experts from linguistic, educational, and/or disability fields in each country between March and September 2019. Spontaneous word list generation activities were supplemented by review of existing vocabulary tools for other contexts. Experts collated word lists of between 15 and 100+ words that they believed were culturally valid across diverse geographical and linguistic contexts within the country of interest.
Results: Comparisons between expert lists were created and the top 50 items confirmed for each country.
Conclusion: Expertise from different fields of practice outside of speech-language pathology can be utilised effectively to support development of tools for communication specialists working with children in underserved regions of the world. Testing of these collaborative tools will be required to ensure their validity.


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