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SPHY103 Linguistics and Phonetics for Speech Pathology

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Understanding typical communication and swallowing development and functions across the lifespan is core foundational knowledge for a speech pathologist. Accordingly in this unit students will learn about typical development, how to collect client data, and how to analyse the data.

This unit focuses on collecting data through observation and in connected speech and language contexts. Students will learn about typical development and change across the lifespan, with particular emphasis on communication and swallowing development. Students will consider communication development, its relationship with other developmental domains, and how it is influenced by socio-cultural contexts. Students will apply linguistic frameworks to the analysis of communication.

The unit aims to provide students with foundational knowledge of typical development and technical skills that they will use to apply to clinical populations in future units in the Bachelor of Speech Pathology.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Understand key stages of communication and swallowing development and understand the relationship between communication development and other developmental domains across the lifespan (GA5);

LO2 - Understand theories and frameworks underpinning typical communication and cognitive development (GA5).

LO3 - Understand the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) and apply it to typical communication across the lifespan (GA5, GA8, GA9);

LO4 - Analyse typical communication across the lifespan (GA5, GA7, GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

  • Introduction to the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) and application to communication 

Background to communication: Review and expand knowledge of

  • What is communication? 
  • Communication as a cultural phenomenon
  • The relationship between speech, language and communication 
  • The components of language: form (syntax, morphology, phonology), content (semantics), and use (pragmatics)

Theories of communication and cognitive development 

Introduction to factors that interact with communication development and change

  • Cognition
  • Attention and memory skills 
  • Physical skills
  • Sensory processes 
  • Socio-emotional aspects
  • Play/leisure development
  • Feeding and swallowing
  • Environmental considerations 
  • Multiculturalism/bilingualism
  • Knowings of First Peoples of Australia 

Observation and analysis of typical communication across the lifespan

  • Technical skills for observation and collecting connected speech and language samples
  • Technical skills for language sample analysis 

Development and change in oral and written communication and other areas of development across the lifespan, including impact on activity and participation

  • Early development (0-2 years)
  • Early childhood (3-5 years)
  • Primary school age (6-12 years)
  • Adolescence (12-18 years)
  • Adulthood (18+ years)
  • Aging (65+ years)

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning using the multi-mode study mode. Lectures will be face to face and/or online whilst the majority of tutorials will be face-to-face and interactive. Tutorials will be largely face-to-face as ACU speech pathology graduates will be communication experts, it is important that students have the opportunity to interact face-to-face in tutorials and develop negotiation, team work, and oral communication skills. 

Tutorials will involve interactive small group work with a focus on development of technical skills and clinical reasoning using case based learning. A selected number of tutorials will focus on discussions and activities in relation to the students’ observations of a case (collected via the hurdle task), with a focus on making connections between theory and practice. Every student will have the opportunity to participate in tutorial discussions, as students will sign up to a particular week to discuss their case (collected via the hurdle task) to their study group. Academic writing skills will also be a focus in tutorials, with the students receiving formative feedback on their proofreading and editing skills.

Learning activities within tutorials will be constructively aligned with the assessment tasks, in that students will have the opportunity to practice the technical skills and clinical reasoning skills required for the assessment tasks using parallel cases in tutorials.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit requires students to (a) demonstrate their understanding of the content, (b) demonstrate their technical skills, and (c) show emerging skills in clinical reasoning.

The hurdle task will involve students collecting observational data on one or more people in their natural environment early in the semester. These observations will form the basis of tutorial discussions in a selected number of tutorials. This task is important for three reasons. Firstly, it provides students with an opportunity to practice their observation skills in an authentic scenario. Secondly, the student’s written observations will support the tutorial learning activities and increase their authenticity, as they are real life examples to help consolidate the students’ learning. Thirdly, there is a need for students to practice their observation skills and interact with people across the lifespan in preparation for professional practice placements in subsequent years. This task targets the Speech Pathology Australia Competency Based Occupational Standards (CBOS) Unit 1: Assessment.

Assessment 1 is an individual task and gives students the opportunity to develop their technical skills, academic writing and referencing skills. This task targets the CBOS Unit 2: Analysis and interpretation.

Assessment 2 is an individual task which requires students to demonstrate their understanding of all the learning outcomes. This task targets the CBOS Unit 2: Analysis and interpretation.

Assessment 3 is an individual exam which requires students to demonstrate their understanding of all the learning outcomes. This assessment will be composed of multiple choice and/or short answer questions.  

Students will therefore have had the opportunity to be assessed twice on each learning outcome. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Observational Task

This task introduces students to the importance of collecting and utilising observational data for assessment purposes.


LO1, LO3

GA5, GA8

Individual Analysis Task

Students will use language analysis methods to analyse speech and language data.



GA5, GA7, GA9

Individual assignment

Comparative analysis of the communication skills of two typically developing individuals of different age groups.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA5, GA8, GA9


Students demonstrate factual and applied knowledge of typical communication and development across the lifespan.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

McLeod, S. & McCormack, J. (Eds.) (2015). Introduction to speech, language and literacy. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Miller, J. (1981). Assessing language production in children. Experimental procedures. Austin, Tx: Pro-Ed.

Miller, J., Gillon, G., & Westerveld, M. (2015). Systematic analysis of language transcripts (SALT), New Zealand/ Australia Student Version 16 [computer software]. Madison, WI: SALT Software, LLC.

Nippold, M.A. (2007). Later language development: School-age children, adolescents, and young adults. (3rd  ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Owens, R.E. (2014). Language development: An introduction. (8th ed.). Boston MA: Pearson Education. 

Sharma, A. & Cockerill, H. (2014). Mary Sheridan's from birth to five years: Children's developmental progress. (4th ed.). Milton Park, UK: Routledge

Thornton, R., & Light, L. L. (2006). Language comprehension and production in normal aging. In J. E. Birren & K. W. Schaie (Eds.) Handbook of the psychology of aging (6th ed., pp. 261-287). San Diego, CA: Elsevier.

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