SPCHSCI 711 : Introduction to Communication in Children and Adults


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Communication development and disorders. Normal communication development across the lifespan, in the context of total child development, of major changes in expectations such as school and literacy, and of variations such as cultural differences and multilingualism. Applications of these concepts in an introduction to the assessment and management of communication disorders in children and of acquired disorders in adults.

Course Overview

This course is  designed to provide a background on typical language and communication across the lifespan. It is a foundational course  for the MSLTPrac degree. Areas covered in the course include:
  • The fundamental stages and processes of language development considered with reference to  different areas of the language system (phonology, semantics, morpho-syntax, pragmatics).
  • The range of variability that exists within typical language and communication development. This includes the impact of bilingualism on human communication and the learning context for diverse communities.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Articulate and discuss major milestones related to phonological, lexical, morphological, syntactic, pragmatic, and meta-linguistic development at various stages of the life span. (Capability 1, 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Identify and explain how language use varies across individuals and cultures. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5 and 8)
  3. Understand and explain how language development varies in monolingual versus bilingual individuals. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5 and 8)
  4. Identify and analyse similarities and differences between oral and written language forms. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  5. Conduct basic descriptive analysis of language samples and interpret these analyses to determine the extent to which an individual’s language functioning is consistent with developmental expectations. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  6. Conduct a basic descriptive analysis of speech samples and interpret these analyses to determine the extent to which an individual’s language functioning is consistent with developmental expectations. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Data set analysis (3) 45% Individual Coursework
Assignments (2) 45% Individual Coursework
Test 10% Individual Test
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Data set analysis (3)
Assignments (2)


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

This course is supported by the Tuākana in Science Programme, which facilitates the success and wellbeing of our Māori and Pacific students. The foundation of the Tuākana Programme is the Tuākana-Teina principle an integral relationship in which older or more expert Tuākana (traditionally brother, sister or cousin) guides a younger or less expert Teina (traditionally younger sibling or cousin). This is a reciprocal relationship which fosters safe learning and teaching environments. Read more here:

Key Topics

  1. Cultural issues are covered  in pre-semester weeks in February with  a Te Tiriti o Waitangi course (3 mornings), pōwhiri preparation and waiata, and the pōwhiri itself.
  2. Topics covered during the semester include preverbal development, phonological, lexical, morpho-syntactic development, communicative competence,  language in the school years, bilingualism across the lifespan, language and normal ageing.
  3. Guest lecturers will present on cognitive development, play, school curriculum, te reo Māori language context.

Special Requirements

  • SPCHSCI 711 is scheduled on two days – Monday and Tuesday mornings  9.00 am -12.00 pm. The lectures will typically be held on Tuesday mornings and be followed by a tutorial on Mondays. Tutorials will be held in Weeks 3-10 and will start at 10am.
  • In some weeks there may be lecture sessions on a Monday rather than Tuesday, so please look carefully at the course timetable.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in. This includes 3-5 hours of classroom time and 5-7 hours a week outside the classroom (homework exercises, revision, assignment preparation).

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

  • Your attendance is expected at scheduled activities. The classes will be a mixture of teaching (lecturing) content, class activities (tutorial-type content) and discussions.
  • Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities may not be available as recordings.
  • Attendance on campus is required for the test.
  • The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable. However be aware that there can be variations to the timetable that appears on the student website both for exact times and for classrooms, so please keep an eye on notifications which may come through Canvas or email. 

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

  1. Hoff, E.    (2005). Language Development (5th ed.).  London, Cengage. Available as an e book.
  2. Finegan, E.  (2015)  Language: its structure and use. (7th ed.) London, Cengage. Chapters 9 & 10.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

This is an intensive class with heavy learning content, so the course co-ordinator welcomes feedback from  students at any time of the semester.  Changes that can be actioned quickly will be done so that processes around student learning can be improved.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

You will submit most material for assessment in SpchSci 711 via TurnItIn, which is software designed to detect plagiarism.

Please go through the Academic Integrity module carefully. Recognise that this is about you. Habits of cutting and pasting from online sources have caused trouble for students in the past, even when they did not believe they were plagiarising, so please be aware of this.  If you often can't remember if chunks of your assignment were your own words or had been cut and pasted from others, then you need to change the way you go about writing assignments, from the start. Don't leave it until later.

If you are unsure how to reference properly (and many students are), commit to learning this early. You are post-graduate students, and accurate and appropriate referencing  is now essential knowledge and practice. (Self-test: do you know what "cited in" really means, and when to use it?).

The assignments are submitted individually. However, students are encouraged to support one another's learning and share resources, work together and problem-solve throughout the degree course. The development of a collegial approach is part of becoming professional, and part of the value system the course embraces including the tuākana-teina approach to peers and others. 

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Always collect some evidence of the problem (such as a medical certificate, note from another person involved in an incident or who can vouch for you, etc.) if you can. You may not need to use it, but it  can be valuable to have in case you do.  

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 16/11/2023 09:57 a.m.