University of Minnesota
Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

Clinical Decision Making with Linguistically Diverse Learners

Overview and Project Goals

Welcome to our online resource for Clinical Decision Making with Linguistically Diverse Learners (CDMLDL). This interactive web-based portal is designed to support speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who provide clinical service to children who are linguistically diverse. Our project goal is to create an interactive national network that delivers free, on-demand professional information for SLPs during the 2006–07 school year, using a self-study curriculum, online lectures, links to other related resources, and a mentored web discussion forum. All learning opportunities are designed to improve services for children and families who speak languages other than, or in addition to, English, by increasing access to valid curriculum, references, and collegial expertise, even for professionals with limited experience or resources in cultural and linguistic diversity.

The Clinical Challenge

Linguistic diversity across the nation has increased dramatically over the past decade and extends to every state, community, and school district. As an example, Minnesota, our home state and a state known previously for its relative homogeneity, now has large populations of individuals who speak Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Laotian, Vietnamese, Korean, Urdu, and Russian. Similarly, non-metro communities nationwide report increases in the number of immigrant families and school-aged second-language learners. These challenges may be especially acute in remote or rural districts in which SLPs serve an increasingly linguistically diverse population with few resources and at times limited experience on which to base clinical decisions. Also, SLPs consistently, identify a growing gap between graduate preparation and the complex practice knowledge needed to serve linguistically diverse children effectively. Unfortunately, reduced funding for continuing education in many employment settings means that many otherwise seasoned clinicians have not sought or received current training related to service delivery to linguistically diverse children.

This online resource community includes three specific web-based learning components.