Prof. Pamela Snow

Professor, La Trobe University, Australia

Speaking at


Can targeted teacher professional development improve children’s oral language, literacy, and mental health at Grade 3? Some findings from the Classroom Promotion of Oral Language (CPOL) trial.

Oral language and literacy competence are major influences on children’s developmental pathways and life success. The ability to use language effectively impacts on children’s learning, their social behaviour in and out of the classroom, and their ability to develop literacy and numeracy skills. Children who do not develop the necessary language and literacy skills in the early years of school go on to face longterm academic difficulties, and may also experience a range of behavioural, vocational and social-emotional difficulties into adolescence and adulthood. Evidence arising from a number of recent Australian and international studies suggests that improving teacher effectiveness, including expanding teachers’ foundational knowledge and skills regarding language and literacy, is a critical step in lifting students’ oral language and literacy outcomes.
This paper is concerned with the CPOL cluster randomised controlled trial, which aimed to determine whether a specifically designed teacher professional learning intervention focusing on promoting oral language leads to improved teacher knowledge and practice, and advances outcomes in oral language and literacy for early years school children, compared with usual practice. Results and implications will be presented.


Professor Pamela Snow is both a speech pathologist and psychologist, and her research interests span multiple aspects of risk and vulnerability in childhood and adolescence, particularly as these apply to language and literacy. She has conducted a number of studies on the language skills of young people in youth justice and has also researched young people in out-of-home care, as well as conducting studies on both mainstream and flexible education settings.

Twitter: @PamelaSnow2



Balanced Literacy: Pouring new wine into old bottles.

This presentation will explore the term “Balanced Literacy” which is promoted by many Australian education academics and primary teacher organisations as a “solution” to the longstanding tensions concerning optimal ways of approaching initial literacy instruction. On the face of it, any compromise position that contains the word “balance” has intuitive appeal. However a review of the Balanced Literacy literature reveals that it has no agreed upon definition and frequent references to the word “eclectic” betray its lack of sytematic and explicit teaching of synthetic phonics to beginning readers. It is argued that Balanced Literacy is really a re-packaging of Whole Language essentials into something that pays lip service (no pun intended) to explicit, evidence-based phonics instruction.