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$2.16-Million to Improve Language and Literacy Development

Media Release

January 20, 2021 – London, ON – Industry Minister Allan Rock, announced today that The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, part of the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program, invested $2,166,441.00 in 46 multi-disciplinary research projects at 26 institutions across Canada. Each research project furthers Canada’s goal of improving children’s language and literacy skills.

More than five million Canadian adults have language and literacy deficiencies. The Network’s research activities focus on early child development because language and literacy deficiencies are best addressed and prevented early in life. The solutions to these problems require collaboration between many scientific disciplines, practitioners and private and public partners. The Network was created to build these linkages and exchanges.

“Twenty-five per cent of Canadian adults have difficulty understanding even simple written documents,” said Allan Rock, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Networks of Centres of Excellence. “By investing in research on language and literacy development, and through our ongoing commitment to lifelong learning, the Government of Canada is helping to ensure that all Canadians have the chance to succeed and to be contributing members of the knowledge based economy.”

Three of the 46 funded research projects for 2003 are:

Speech Recognition in Classrooms
Project Investigators John Bradley, University of Ottawa and Michel Picard, University of Montreal. This research team is investigating a child’s ability to understand speech in a typical classroom setting. “Almost every reported measurement of noise levels in classrooms indicates that the noise will interfere with speech communication, this is especially so for younger children,” says Bradley. Poor classroom acoustics disadvantage all children by reducing the effectiveness of communication and therefore children’s ability to understand what is being taught. The results of this research will provide a more precise and comprehensive assessment of speech communication problems for students and teachers. Recommendations will be made describing the acoustical conditions that best support unstrained speech communication.

Identification and Intervention During Kindergarden for Reading DifficultiesProject Investigator, Linda Siegel, University of British Columbia. Homelessness, anti-social behaviour and adolescent suicide can be the results of undetected and unremediated learning disabilities. At the present time, the learning difficulties of many children are not properly detected. Siegel and her team are testing a model that has been developed to provide an accurate and efficient system that enables teachers at the kindergarden level to identify children with problems. Currently many children are not assessed until years later. Identified children would then be referred for the appropriate intervention methods based on their difficulties. “The reduction of learning difficulties will help these children lead more fulfilling lives, save the educational system significant money, prevent school dropout rates and reduce the incidence of social problems,” says Siegel.

Creating Appropriate Assessment Tests for French-Speaking Canadian Children - Project Investigators, Natacha Trudeau, University of Montreal and Alain Desrochers, University of Ottawa. With French Immersion programs and immigration on the rise, the number of Canadians using the French language has increased. Tools and tests to assess the specific skills of French speakers and readers in a Canadian context are rare. Network researchers aim to improve the current situation. Natacha Trudeau, Université de Montréal, and her team are focusing on developing oral language assessment tools for children 8 to 30 months of age. Network researcher Alain Desrochers, University of Ottawa, and his team are working to provide a high quality reading test battery for school-aged Canadian readers of French. The tools developed will be used to identify children at risk for oral language disorders during the preschool years, or to carry out more precise learning disability identification assessments in schools. When problems are found, these tools will be able to guide the implementation of remedial programs.

“We know that far too many Canadian children are failing to acquire the necessary reading and language skills, and that there are many opportunities for improvement,” says Dr. Donald Jamieson, CEO and Network Scientific Director. “Such improvements require an effective partnership between those who design and deliver programs and services, and the scientists and others whose work advances our understanding of how language and literacy skills are best acquired. It is equally important that these programs and services are evaluated systematically, so that we learn both how these may be improved, and how various factors contribute to successful outcomes. Our Network is dedicated to ensuring that scientific knowledge in this area is applied to benefit Canadians.”

The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network brings together leading scientists, clinicians, students and educators as well as public and private partners. The Network’s mandate is to generate, integrate and disseminate bias-free scientific research and knowledge that is focused on improving and sustaining children’s language and literacy development in Canada. In March 2001, The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, was formed when it received a 4-year, $14.2-million grant from the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. The Network’s Administration Centre is located at The University of Western Ontario.

The NCE program is administered and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), in partnership with Industry Canada. The goal of the federal NCE program is to mobilize Canada's research talent in universities, industry and government to improve the quality of life for Canadians, create new economy jobs and stimulate growth.

For more information, please contact Dan Sinai, at, (519) 850-2535 or Industry Canada Media Relations at (613) 943-2502.

Information about each of the 46 funded research projects can be found on The Network Web site at

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LAST MODIFIED: November 04 2004 20:45:35

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