COVID-19 Multilingual Families Talking and Playing

We are excited to share resources to get multilingual children and their families talking and playing, even during COVID-19 (

These resources are a result of a collaboration between MSc-SLP students from the Communication Sciences and Disorders program,  Paris Begrand-Fast, Rebecca Epp, Marisa Lelekach, Tara McPhedran, Romy Pistotnik, Kira Shelton, Krista Toohey, and Taylor Wilson, and Ms. Lucero Vargas, SLP, from Multicultural Health Brokers, and I, Dr. MacLeod.

The project emerged from a conversation between Ms. Vargas and I. As a clinician,  Ms. Vargas works with families who have children with communication disorders and who speak languages other than English at home. My research focuses on these diverse families. During the closure of schools and daycares due to the pandemic, I reached out to Ms. Vargas to see what I could do to help. Ms. Vargas noted that families needed simple, easy activity ideas that would provide opportunities for children to engage in language development and play. Our MSc-SLP students were up for the challenge and brought their SLP training, experience with kids, and creativity to the project.

The purpose of this project was to develop these activity ideas and share them with the Multicultural Health Brokers.  While all instructions are provided in English, activities were created to be accessible for a variety of languages and cultures.

@MultilingFamLab on Research on RehabMed Live!

To celebrate May Speech & Hearing month, #CommunicateAwareness, the Communication Science and Disorders Department’s Dr. Esther Kim, Dr. Bill Hodgetts and I participated in today’s @UofARehabMed’ RehabMed Live.  It was exciting to pull together our perspectives on connecting with loved ones and overcoming challenges.


From our lab’s work, I shared about our Survey findings and some new findings from our communicating with children survey.

We have found that most children have lost regular connections with their friends, in particular toddlers and younger school-aged children. Their connections are more limited during the week, and with fewer children

How to help? Try coordinating video play dates…

  • Kids can plan a favourite game and take turns taking the lead
  • “Share” a snack
  • Choose a good time of the day, snack time, quiet time, … 
  • Brainstorm a few activities, start simple: Eye-spy, Simon says, show and tell, green-light-red-light.
  • Ready to level-up? Read a book together, sing a song, learn a new dance, play dress-up, yoga, or even a craft project

Remember that these need not be long – and it might take a few play dates for everyone to get comfortable

Some great resources for parenting during the pandemic from WHO and for talking to children about COVID-19.



Tips for communicating with family & friends during COVID-19

Early in the isolation and lock-down, we found lots of information about how to communicate with colleagues when working remotely.  But we found very little on how to better communicate with family and friends.  Although most of us have family and Communicating with Family & Friends (4)friends who live afar, we often don’t need to use “remote” tools to talk with loved ones who live nearby.  In early April, our lab launched an online survey to better understand how we are communicating with family and friends during COVID-19.

We found that ( PDF Here : )

  • we use different tools depending on our age
  • by using different tools we are quite satisfied with our interactions with loved ones.

And we are coping well.

We did find that we were less likely to be satisfied in interactions with our elderly family and friends.  How can we improve these interactions? Try calling from a quiet place, talking about something familiar, and reminisce.

#WeAreInThisTogether #UAlbertaCSD #CommunicateAwareness

We have released a French version of our Survey!

Notre laboratoire à l’Université d’Alberta mène une enquête en ligne d’environ 10 minutes sur la habiletés de communication des enfants durant le COVID-19. Nous souhaitons en savoir davantage sur les changements dans les habitudes de communication des enfants, notamment pour les enfants avec des troubles de la communication.

La participation est volontaire:

Vos réponses nous aideront à développer des stratégies pour les parents, les enseignant.e.s et les pour soutenir la communication des enfants durant cette crise.