Speaking well is often the very thing that lets us occupy a social niche that will ultimately lead to success in general. And language study involves not only correct and accurate pronunciation, but also the auditory attention, phonemic perception, and accurate and consistent connected speech.
All ENS speech therapists are native Russian speakers who have passed the relevant recruitment tests, possess advanced professional qualifications in speech therapy, and have worked in the field for more than five years.
Principal areas of the speech therapy service's work
Speech therapy involves solving several kinds of issues:
- Diagnostic testing of the child’s level of speech development at the moment of their admission to ENS (admission diagnostic test and subsequent speech therapy examinations);
- Timely prophylactic treatment of speech problems, to avert them (especially under bilingual conditions);
- Help removing difficulties with recognising or pronouncing sounds, syllable structure, and the production and comprehension of grammatically correct coherent speech;
- Creation and development of phonematic perception;
- Assistance with speech development aimed at perfecting it in line with the child’s age and individual needs, within the wider framework of their social development;
- Helping children acquire communication skills.
The date for the child’s admission diagnostic test – attended by a speech therapist as well as by a management representative, a senior teacher, and a psychologist – is discussed the first time a family visits one of our kindergartens. The speech therapy segment of the test does not presuppose a single plan that would be the same for every child, because the speech therapist’s first task is to get to know the child in the new kindergarten environment. That means finding a common language with the youngster, making contact, establishing the state and level of their overall speech development, and, if possible, assessing their pronunciation, their ability to distinguish phonemes, and any peculiarities of their grammatical structure and connected speech.
The admission diagnostic test takes the form of a conversation first with the child, and then with their parents too. At the end, the speech therapist may give the parents some necessary recommendations as well as telling them what the express diagnostic test revealed about the level of the child’s speech development (assuming the child participated in quality speech contact with the adult).
If the diagnostic goes well – the work at ENS really begins. At the beginning of the school year, the speech therapist first carries out a speech therapy examination to identify children who need speech therapy intervention as soon as possible. This is likely to apply in the first instance to older children, because they will be starting school sooner and there is less time to work with them than there is with younger children. But there will also be some Nursery group children who are ready to see the speech therapist, be helped to pronounce particular sounds, and follow what are admittedly not easy instructions – to do their articulation exercises in front of the mirror and watch themselves as well as the speech therapist. The other children will be examined by the speech therapist later, once they have started to fit into the adult and child environment and to adapt to the new conditions they are experiencing.
The time required for speech therapy work is different for each child: it depends on how quickly they assimilate the material, their individual behavior, attention, thinking, and memory, and finally on the particular difficulties they are having (which can vary a great deal). The speech therapist will explain everything in a one-on-one meeting (during the first month after the summer holidays or the first few weeks of your child’s kindergarten attendance) to go over the results of the speech therapy examination. That is when your joint speech therapy work actually begins.
Some parents and children are sometimes reluctant to stop seeing the speech therapist, because they understand how important speech development is within the hierarchy of the child’s needs. This is especially true if the future educational plans for the child include attendance at a Russian school. The speech therapist will then continue to work with the child, aiming not to correct their speech but to promote speech development in accordance with their individual needs. It should be more that if there is a queue of children needing work to correct speech defects then speech therapists at some branches may be unable to continue seeing children for such developmental work. This is because correcting existing errors in speech is a professional matter and cannot admit errors, unprofessional approaches, or delay: only a trained speech therapist can help. Speech development, however, can also be addressed by a Russian teacher during special school-preparation lessons.