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 hanen obrazek

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Janice Greenberg, Program Director at The Hanen Centre (Toronto), presented a workshop on Hanen Programs, which are specialized therapeutic programs involving intensive education of groups of parents (whose children have language delays) or educators (who work with young children in educational settings). Hanen programs are based on the philosophy that children learn to communicate within the natural conversations of everyday life and that parents and educators are the child’s best language facilitators if they are taught to do this effectively.

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The Conference ”SLI – Specific Language Impairment – diagnosis, prognosis, intervention” was held  in Warsaw in Sofitel Victoria Hotel, Królewska 11 Street on 5-8 July 2012. 


The conference was an opportunity to:
- present the state of the art and the research on SLI,
- exchange information and specialist knowledge
- strengthen international cooperation

July 8th 2012 (day four)

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The Hanen Workshop - led by Janice Greenberg

The workshop was delivered by Janice Greenberg – Program Director at the Hanen Centre, a non-profit organisation in Toronto. Hanen was founded in the 70s. The main aim of the organisation is to support the child’s language development. What makes   The Hanen Centre different from other such organisations is that they work not with the children themselves but rather with their caregivers – parents and teachers – in order to provide the children with a language supporting environment in during natural everyday situations, not only during speech and langauge therapy sessions.
The Hanen Centre  provides training programs for everyone interacting with the child, including parents, teachers, educators, babysitters, and sometimes even school bus drivers. The Hanen Centre provides a variety of training programmes like: Target Words (for parents of late talkers), More Than Words (for parents of children with ASD), Learning Language and Loving It  (for early childhood educators), ABC and Beyond (designed for building emerging literacy in early childhood settings) and It Takes Two To Talk (for parents of children with language delays). The Hanen Centre collaborates with the University of Toronto to conduct studies to evaluate the validity of the method.
Hanen Programmes® focus on prevention, intervention and enrichment. The basis of all Hanen Programmes® is the belief that language is acquired in social contexts. Caregivers are the ones who can lead the interaction in a developmentally stimulating way. It is their responsiveness that motivates children to communicate with their environment.
There are two factors to be taken into account when communicating with children: interaction and information. Good interaction ensures that joint attention, intentionality and turn taking are developed over time. Giving children additional information within responsive interactions though language modelling and extending the topic is crucial to boosting their language and cognitive abilities. Short clips were presented illustrating basic mistakes caregivers make while communicating with children. At the end of the session, various roles teachers play were presented followed by a discussion of their impact on communication with children.  The role played by the educator is especially important in interactions with children whose language development is delayed or impaired. Research shows that children with language impairment are often ignored and are frequently unable to elicit responses to their nonverbal communication initiatives. Due to that, their opportunities for interaction and language learning  occur less frequently.
The second part of workshop began with a quick reminder of conversational styles. Janice Greenberg emphasized the importance of adjusting the teacher’s style of interaction to the child's communication style. Then, she reviewed the strategies taught in  Learning Languge and Loving It™ - The Hanen Programme® for Early Childhood Educators/Teachers. Some of the most important characteristics of the programme were: following child's lead, extending a conversation and asking in-depth questions that continue the conversation. The effects of the programme surprisingly extend to areas other than language. Educators also notice  improvements in children’s behaviour and their social skills. This change is  triggered by changes in  the educator’s interactions with  the children and the resulting impact on the children.
The final part of the workshop focused on how to work effectively with educators. The main goal of the program is to make educators aware of the importance of interactions with children and convince them to pay attention to the dynamics of these relationships.
Janice Greenberg supported her presentation with many valuable video examples of real (or enacted) conversations of caregivers interacting with children. To keep things  interesting, she even told a joke about a boy who just experienced his first day at school. He came back home and when his mother asked him if he liked school, he said: “Well, I didn’t enjoy it very much. I can’t read. I can’t write. And they wouldn’t let me talk”. Hanen Programs directly address this situation by teaching educators how to making talking and conversation an important part of the day and take advantage of these natural opportunities for fostering language development.



The prevalence of Specific Language Impairment in children is 7% and is characterized by difficulties in using language. Children with SLI learn to talk later than typically developing children and once they start talking, their linguistic abilities are limited: they have limited lexicon, problems with grammar, they do not understand complex sentences. Dyslexia is also common among them. Children with SLI, even though they have correct hearing, are intellectually capable, do not have neurological disorders nor features of autism, are prone to severe education failures, which has a negative impact on their lives. It is estimated that there are about 300 thousand children with SLI in Poland. Most of them are not diagnosed and have no chance of receiving the necessary treatment.






As we were preparing for the international Conference on SLI in Poland, a group of four prominent British academics: Dorothy Bishop, Professor at Oxford University; Gina Conti- Ramsden, Professor at the University of Manchester; Dr Courtenay Norbury from the University of London and Maggie Snowling, Professor at the University of York, had launched in May 2012 a joint initiative: Raising Awareness of Language Learning Impairments (RALLI). Within the campaign, short videos are published on youtube, in which specialists explain the characteristics of language impairments, including SLI, stressing their negative impact on the people affected. Children with SLI themselves also talk about their experiences. We would like to encourage you to watch the RALLI videos.

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