Education of Speech-Language Pathologists in the United Kingdom

Article excerpt

From the Field connects you with clinicians and practitioners in speech-language pathology. Each issue you will meet a professional selected for an in-depth interview on a highly practical topic. The interviews are conducted by the editor of From the Field, Judy K. Montgomery, PhD, CCC-SLP, at Chapman University in Orange, California. Suggestions for future interviews should be sent to Kathy Coufal, CDQ Editor, Wichita State University, 401A Ahlberg Hall, 1845 Fairmont St., Wichita, KS, 67260; e-mail:

The education of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in the United Kingdom and Ireland has many parallels with the university programs in the United States. A comparison of the two also reveals several differences. I know several SLPs who have moved to Ireland to assume excellent positions; furthermore, I recently met three other professionals who have relocated from Ireland to California to work in the schools and hospitals there. Thus, it is important to understand educational programs beyond our borders. This interview with Sister Marie de Monfort Supple of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, provides such art opportunity. I met Sister Marie in 1995 at the International Association of Logopedics and Phonetrics (IALP) Conference in Cairo, Egypt. She has been a dynamic international leader in speech-language pathology issues for several decades and is often present at ASHA conferences. I have visited Trinity College twice and hold my colleagues there in high esteem. In this interview, Sister Marie offers a thoughtful review of the educational process in the UK and Ireland.

Q: Would you please set the stage for us with a brief historical review of speech-language pathology?

A: Communication disorders have existed since humans developed oral communication skills. This is evidenced in the references found in the records of most civilizations. In the Old Testament, one of the earliest written histories, it is noted that the prophet Moses had a communication disorder, possibly the first documented case of a speech and language disorder! Ancient Greek literature also provides references to such problems. In Ireland, the law of the seventh--eighth century stated, "Dligid edteanga aimsir," which can be translated literally as "Tonguelessness is entitled to time" (Kelly, 1986). This implied that where a communication disorder existed the individual had the right to be afforded the time required to "make his case"

In the late 19th and the early 20th centuries the research of Helmholtz (physiology), Pasteur (bacteriology), and Edison (electricity) impacted all aspects of medicine and medically related disorders, and opened new ways to improve clinical care.

Advances in medicine were also reflected in the area of speech and language disorders. Pioneers such as Broca (1824-1880) and Jackson (1835-1891) established basic information on the role of the nervous system in acquired language disorders.

Most of the early references to communication disorders are centered in the medical profession. However in the early part of the 20th century we see the emergence of the profession of speech and language therapy--logopaedics--as we know it today. In the UK, the first systematic treatment program commenced in Manchester, England, in 1906, where classes were provided for clients with disorders of fluency. The first clinic for adults and children was established in 1911, in the Ear Nose and Throat department at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London. The first clinical training in the UK commenced in 1919. At the same time as these developments were taking place in the UK, progress was also being made in Europe, particularly in centers in Vienna, Germany, and Denmark. These centers were established by physicians who founded the profession of phoniatrics. Among these, Froeschels can truly be considered a founder of our profession, in both Europe and the USA. In the 1920s, in Vienna, he worked closely with an educationalist, Rothe, and together they commenced a training program in "remedial speech" The result of their efforts was that by 1928, 39 schools in Vienna provided "speech training" for their pupils. …