Child Language Lab


Lab Director
Luigi Girolametto, PhD

Luigi is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology. Current research in his Child Language Lab focuses on (a) parent-focused language intervention and (b) language acquisition in bilingual preschoolers and school age children.  He is currently collaborating with Prof. Cristina Caselli on a language intervention project at the Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione, CNR (Rome) and with Dr. Elina Mainela-Arnold (University of Turku, Finland) on indicators of language disorders in bilingual children. Luigi joined the department in 1992 when it was located in the Old Church on College Street. Since then, he has received several mentorship and teaching awards (Faculty of Medicine, SAC, Centre for Health Promotion, U of T), an Editors’ Award from Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools, and numerous appointments as visiting professor (at the University of British Columbia, LaTrobe University, Melbourne,  University of Siena,  and the National Research Council, Rome). Luigi has been an investigator on 20 research grants from Ontario, Canadian, and Australian sources that range in topics, including: parent training, literacy, specific language impairment, early childhood education, and bilingualism. He and his colleagues have published over 75 journal articles and chapters that advance the practice of speech-language pathology with preschoolers. He has been an invited speaker at international conferences in Australia, Italy, the United States, and Canada. At U of T, Luigi has been the past Chair of the Department and served as Vice Dean, Graduate Education for a brief period.

Luigi Girolametto è un professore ordinario nel dipartimento di Speech-Language Pathology all’Università di Toronto (Canada).  I temi di ricerca del Child Language Lab sono (a) l’intervento genitore-bambino e (b) l’acquisizione del linguaggio in bambini bilingui in età prescolare e scolare. Luigi sta collaborando con Prof. Cristina Caselli su un progetto di screening al Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione al CNR di Roma. Inoltre, sta lavorando con Prof. Elina-Mainela Arnold (Università di Turku, Finlandia) sugli indicatori del ritardo del linguaggio in bambini bilingui .


Post Doctoral Fellow
 Ji Sook Park, PhD

Ji Sook received her PhD from Penn State University in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Language Science. Her dissertation topic focused on cognitive mechanisms involved with language abilities in typically developing monolingual and bilingual children.  She completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Madison-Wisconsin on the topic of executive functioning in monolingual and bilingual children. Her current research in the Child Language Lab focuses on the use of statistical tasks to examine the language abilities of bilingual children with and without SLI. The children in this study will be 8 to 9-year-old children who speak both Cantonese and English. Some of her recent publications include:

Kaushanskaya, M., Park, J.S., Gangopadhyay, I., Davidson, M. & Ellis Weismer, S. (2016). The relationship between executive functions and language abilities in children: A latent variables approach. Journal of Speech, Language,  Hearing Research, 60, 912-923.

Park, J.S., Miller, C., & Mainela-Arnold, E. (2015). Processing speech measures as clinical marked for children with language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language,  Hearing Research, 58, 954-960.

Park, J.S., Mainela-Arnold, E., & Miller, C. (2015). Information processing speed as a predictor of IQ in children with and without specific language impairment in grades 3 and 8. Journal of Communication Disorders, 53, 57-69.


Statistical Learning in Bilingual Children (funded by SSHRC)

Dr. Ji Sook Park, a post doctoral fellow, is coordinating this study in the Child Language Lab. The study is lead by Dr. Elina Mainela-Arnold, formerly of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto.  Currently, Dr. Mainela-Arnold is Professor at the Department of Psychology and Speech-Language Pathology, University of Turku, Finland. Dr. Luigi Girolametto is a co-investigator. Collaborators include: Dr. Carol Miller, Dr. Daniel Weiss, Dr. Janet Van Hell (Pennsylvania State University) and Mr. David Haffner (Toronto District School Board).

A large number of children in Canada and around the world enter school speaking a language other than the language used for instruction. A traditional approach to assessing age appropriateness of language abilities relies on comparison of students’ language abilities to monolingual norms. These norms are typically available to educators in the language of instruction, which is often the bilingual students’ second language (L2). In many cases, the norms are not available for bilingual students’ home language or first language (L1). Image result for bilingualismEven when available, monolingual norms are often not an appropriate point of reference for the various contexts these bilingual experience students come from. This makes it difficult to determine whether or not students’ abilities are primarily influenced by differences in bilingual exposure, and which students are at risk of language learning difficulties. Thus, school personnel are faced with a serious obstacle in determining what services, if any, a child needs in order to succeed academically. This research will address that obstacle by investigating whether performance on tasks that do not involve use of language, namely statistical learning tasks, can be used to predict dual language abilities independent of the degree of bilingual language exposure. Such tasks could be used to predict individual differences in dual language ability regardless of the languages spoken by the child.

Parent-focused Intervention for Late Talkers (CNR, Rome, Italy)

This study is being conducted in collaboration with Cristina Caselli, Director of LaCAM Lab, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR. Collaborators include: Arianna Bello (University of Roma3), Daniela Onofrio (CNR, Rome), and Lorena Remi (ATS Valpadana, Mantova). The six-session intervention program was written and designed for Italian families whose

Family Sitting On Sofa Reading Book At Home

children were identified by screening programs as having delayed vocabulary development. The program focuses on shared book reading and incorporates key language teaching strategies, such as focused stimulation and recasting. The program has been field-tested in Mantova and the parent/professional guidebook published by Erickson in Italian: Parent-coaching per l’intervento precoce sul linguaggio: Percorsi di lettura dialogica nel programma “Oltre il libro”. (Girolametto, Bello, Onofrio, Remi, Caselli, 2017). Data from two parent programs held in Mantova are being prepared for journal submission.



Rezzonico, S., Golberg, A., Milburn, T., Belletti, A., & Girolametto, L. (In Press), English Verb Accuracy of Bilingual Cantonese-English Preschoolers. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools.

Milburn, T., Hipfner-Boucher, K., Weitzman, E., Greenberg, J., Pelletier, J., & Girolametto, L. (in press). Cognitive, linguistic and print-related predictors of preschool children`s word spelling and name writing. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy.

Rezzonico, S., Hipfner-Boucher, K., Milburn, T., Weitzman, E., Greenberg, J., Pelletier, J., & Girolametto, L. (in press). Improving Preschool Educators’ Shared Book Reading Practices: Effects of coaching in professional development. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.

Rezzonico, S., Goldberg, A., Mak, K., Yap, S., Milburn, T., Belletti, A., & Girolametto, L. (2016). Narratives in Two Languages: Storytelling of Bilingual Cantonese–English Preschoolers. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 59,  521-532.

Katz, E. & Girolametto, L. (2015). Peer-mediated intervention for pre-schoolers with ASD: Effects on responses and initiations. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 17, 6, 565-576.

Girard, L. & Girolametto, L. (2015). Fostering children’s alphabet knowledge at school entry through engagement in family literacy activities. Children`s Research Digest, 2(2), 72-79.

Rezzonico, S; Chen, X.; Cleave, P.; Greenberg, J.; Hipfner-Boucher, K.;Johnson, C.; Milburn, T.; Pelletier, J.; Weitzman, E. & Girolametto, L. (2015). Oral Narratives in Monolingual and Bilingual Children Preschoolers with SLI. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 50(6), 830-841.

Milburn, T., Hipfner-Boucher, K., Greenberg, J., Weitzman, E., Pelletier, J., & Girolametto, L. (2015). Effects of coaching on educators’ and preschoolers’ use of references to print and phonological awareness during a small group craft/writing activity. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools, 46(2), 94-111.

Namasivayam, A., Hipfner-Boucher, K., Milburn, T., Greenberg, J., Weitzman, E., Pelletier, J., & Girolametto, L. (2015). Effects of coaching on educators’ vocabulary-teaching strategies during shared reading. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 17(4), 346-356.

Hipfner-Boucher, K., Milburn, T., Greenberg, J., Weitzman, E., Pelletier, J., & Girolametto, L. (2015). Narrative abilities in subgroups of English Language Learners and monolingual peers. International Journal of Bilingualism, 19(6), 677-692.

Stich, M., Girolametto, L., Johnson, C. J., Cleave, P.L. & Chen, X. (2015). Contextual effects on the conversations of mothers and their children with SLI. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36, (2), 323-344.

Levickis, P., Reilly, S., Girolametto, L., Obioha, U., & Wake, M. (2014). Maternal behaviors that promote early language acquisition in slow-to-talk toddlers: Prospective community-based study. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 35, (4), 274-281.

Hipfner-Boucher, K., Milburn, T., Greenberg, J., Weitzman, E., Pelletier, J., & Girolametto, L. (2014). Relationships between preschoolers’ oral language and phonological awareness. First Language, 34(2), 178-197.

Milburn, T., Girolametto, L., Weitzman, E., & Greenberg, J. (2014). Enhancing preschool educators’ ability to facilitate conversations during shared book reading. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 14(1), 105-140.


Girolametto, L., Bello, A., Onofrio, D., & Caselli, M.C. (2017). Parent-coaching per l’intervento precoce sul linguaggio: Percorsi di lettura dialogica nel programma “Oltre il Libro”. Trento, Italy: Erickson.

Bonifacio, S., Girolametto, L., & Montico, M. (2013). Le Abilità Socio-Conversazionali del Bambino: Questionario e Dati Normativi dal 12 ai 36 mesi d’età. Milano, Italy: FrancoAngeli.

Bonifacio, S. Montico, M., & Girolametto, L. (2013). Lo sviluppo delle abilità socio-conversazionali del bambino dai 12 ai 36 mesi. [The development of social conversational skills in children from 12-36 months of age.] Quaderni acp [Journal of Pediatrics, Italy], 20(6), 248-251.

Bonifacio, S., Girolametto, L., Bruno, M. (2012). Come conversano i bambini a 12, 18, e 24 mesi? Quaderni acp, 19(5), 200-203.

Bonifacio, S. & Girolametto, L. (2007). Abilità socio-conversazionali in un gruppo di bambini parlatori tardivi sottoposti ad un intervento precoce. Psichiatria dell’Infanzia e dell’Adolescenza, 7(3), 547-558.

Bonifacio, S., Girolametto, L., Bulligan, M., Callegari, M., Vignola, S., Zocconi, E. (2007). Assertive and responsive conversational skills of Italian-speaking late talkers. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 42 (5), 607-623.

Bonifacio, S., & Girolametto, L. (2005). Applicazione clinica del questionario Le Abilità Socio-Conversazionali Del Bambino. Psichiatria dell’Infanzia e dell”Adolescenza, 72, 583-595.

Girolametto, L., Bonifacio, S., Visini, C., Weitzman, E., Zocconi, E., & Pearce, P. S. (2002). Mother-child interactions in Canada and Italy: Linguistic responsiveness to late-talking toddlers. International Journal of Communication and Language Disorders, 37, 153-171.