What does a speech pathologist do?
Speech pathology is the study of speech and communication and includes training and treatment for people with speech disorders and communication problems. A professional in this area is called a speech pathologist, and their role might include working with people who have difficulties speaking clearly and communicating effectively. Here are just a few examples of people a speech pathologist might work with:
- People who stutter
- people who have suffered a brain injury or stroke
- people who are neurodiverse
- young people with social or behavioural issues which may be intensified by difficulty communicating.
Source: Speech Pathology Australia (2022) What is a Speech Pathologist fact sheet, Speech Pathology Australia website: Resources for the Public, accessed 24 January 2023 http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/
What does 0.8 FTE mean?
FTE stands for ‘full-time equivalent’. And the measurement indicates your workload.
A full-time workload is represented as 1.0FTE or FTE 100% and is commonly 40 hours a week in Australia.
Half a full-time workload is represented as 0.5 or 50%, so if the full-time workload is 40 hours, 0.5FTE would be 20 hours a week.
0.8 means you would be working 80% of a full-time workload. Generally, that works out to 32 hours a week, which is usually divided into 4 8-hour days.
What does ‘speech, language, and literacy intervention’ mean?
‘Intervention’, in this context, refers to actions taken to improve someone’s speech, language, and literacy. In schools, this might include playing sound and language games with young children, doing mouth and tongue exercises to help with pronunciation, and the modelling of correct grammar and vocabulary by the teacher or specialist.
Speech, language, and literacy are related but they focus on different things.
Speech is the physical production of sound. It includes how clearly we pronounce sounds in words (articulation), how loudly or softly we speak (voice), and the rhythm of our speech (fluency). We use different parts of our body (our vocal cords, throat, tongue) to make sounds which are speech. It’s how we express language.
Language is a social tool that people use to communicate with each other. Language skills include understanding the meaning of words and how they are used and adapted. It can be written, spoken, and signed, as well as communicated using gestures, sounds, and facial expressions. The words and the way we use language usually change depending on where we are and who we are talking to.
Literacy is the ability to read and write. A person may be able to communicate using oral language, but not read and write if they do not understand how to identify and use the symbols of their alphabet. In Australian education, literacy studies and support include speaking and listening, reading, and writing.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2023) National Literacy Learning Progression, Australian Curriculum 8.4 website, accessed 24 January 2023. https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/resources/national-literacy-and-numeracy-learning-progressions/national-literacy-learning-progression/
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2023) What is Speech? What is Language? ASLHA website, accessed 25 January 2023. https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/speech-and-language/
What does ‘use data to track progress’ mean?
Data is information that speech pathologists collect while they are working with someone. This information reflects how the patient, client, or student is progressing. For example, a speech pathologist working with a primary school student might have a chart of the sounds and words the child is aiming to be able to make. Over several weeks, they might repeat the same exercises and make a note of the new sounds and words the student can make each session. This is using data to track progress.
It’s important that speech pathologists collect data to see what is and isn’t working in their professional practice and cater their treatment to suit individual needs. They may also need to report on the data they have collected, by informing the student’s teachers, school, or parents of how they have improved.
What other degrees would be counted as ‘equivalent’?
To do this role, and any Speech Pathology role in Australia, you will need to take a university course that meets Speech Pathology Australia accreditation standards, which you can find on their website.
Equivalent qualifications could be a science or health degree with a specialisation in speech pathology or language therapy. There are also bridging programs into master’s degrees in speech pathology for people who have studied something completely different before deciding to become a speech pathologist.
Speech Pathology Australia (2023) University Programs, Speech Pathology Australia website: Resources for the Public, accessed 24 January 2023. http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/
What is a Working with Children Check?
If you are interested in work that involves interacting with children and young adults, you will need to obtain a Working with Children Check (WWCC). This screening program uses information from police and background checks to make sure you are a suitable candidate for working with minors. Each state and territory in Australia runs their own WWCC program, so even if you have a valid WWCC, you will need to undergo a new screening if you move to a different state. The WWCC is valid for a limited time and must be renewed. There are also different registration categories for paid and voluntary work. You can learn more by visiting the WWCC website for your state or territory.