Becoming Cultural Learners: CSD Bilingual Extension Students Lead Community-Based Service-Learning Project

Photo of CSD Bilingual Extension StudentsMost pre-service speech-language pathologists report feeling ill-prepared to make ‘surface-level’ decisions regarding the language to select for instruction/intervention, and, more specifically, selecting the types of linguistic targets on which their instruction should focus when their speech and language therapy involves children and families who speak languages different from English, and who embrace cultural beliefs and values other than the American mainstream. But, when speech-language pathologists become ‘cultural learners,’ they can come to know their students and the families of their students and provide culturally responsive and meaningful lessons that tap those students’ prior (home/cultural) knowledge.

The expansion of a Speech-language pathologist’s cultural knowledge tends to be best accomplished when submerged in the ‘messiness’ of real world contexts. Therefore, providing Speech-Language Pathology students with the opportunity to interact with Latino and Chinese-speaking families through service-learning might be deemed as crucial step in the exploration of deep linguistic and cultural barriers to the implementation of literacy instruction, barriers that would not be readily identified if the students were only exposed to traditional classroom-based pedagogical approaches to learning. After all, the cultural knowledge-base is the scaffold onto which every other aspect of service-delivery is built upon for the speech-language pathologist who will serve emerging bilingual individuals (Brea, 2014).

Under the guidance of Maria Rosa Brea, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor, and the clinical supervision of Alisha Ghandi, students in the Bilingual Extension Program led and participated in a service-learning project, providing parent workshops in two locations in our community: University Settlement and Lenox Hill Neighborhood House.

For this project, students in NYU Steinhardt’s MS in Communicative Sciences and Disorders Bilingual Extension Program were responsible for developing lesson plans using evidence-based strategies to use before, during, or after reading, implementing instruction in the families’ two languages, and providing supplemental materials that would allow a connection to the families’ cultural funds of knowledge.

Students collected parent resources and compiled their own descriptive and reflective field notes in preparation for and post the implementation of the intervention. In addition to the students in the Bilingual Extension Program, these parent book-sharing workshops provided an opportunity for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral bilingual-biliterate students to volunteer their time as interpreters and as collaborators in the instructional process. A total of 24 families attended the instructional workshops.

Collage of CSD Bilingual Extension Students

Students in the Bilingual Extension Program providing parent instruction on shared book-reading strategies Mandarin Chinese and in Spanish.


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CSD Faculty and Students win 2017 ASHA Convention Awards

Photo of CSD Faculty and Students

Dr. Molfenter, Dr. Grigos, and Julie Case with their Awards

We are proud to announce that Dr. Sonja Molfenter, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, received the Early Career Contributions in Research Award at the 2017 ASHA convention held this year in Los Angeles.

About the Award
The Award for Early Career Contributions in Research is designed to acknowledge significant scientific accomplishments by individuals beyond the dissertation and within five years of receiving their doctoral degree or other terminal degree. This award may be given to an individual or individuals under contract with an institution of higher education or other institution where research in communication sciences and disorders and sciences is being conducted.

About Dr. Molfenter
Sonja Molfenter has 18 peer-reviewed publications (five as the first author) when she received her Ph.D., and today has 30. In her first year at NYU, Dr. Molfenter received ASHA’s Advancing Academic Research Career funding to collect pilot data on pharyngeal sarcopenia and dysphagia in healthy aging. She received an NYU training grant to study the relationship between oropharyngeal edema and swallowing function. The grant, and participation in ASHA’s Lessons for Success program led to an NIH new-investigator grant to further study pharyngeal atrophy. She also received funding from the Clinical and Translation Science Institute to improve laryngeal function in Parkinson’s disease.

Other awards received by CSD faculty at the ASHA 2017 Conference include:
Associate Professor & Director of the MS Program, Maria Grigos and Doctoral Student, Julie Case: 2016 Editor’s Award for the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research-Speech Section for the article titled “Articulatory Control in Childhood Apraxia of Speech in a Novel Word-Learning Task” (Case & Grigos, 2016)
Many Congratulations go out to Sonja Molfenter, Maria Grigos, and Julie Case on their achievements!
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CSD Undergraduate Students Take Capitol Hill!

Photo of CSD Undergraduate Students on Capitol HillIn October seniors in Steinhardt’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders Samantha Louis, Nicole Candiotti, and Gretchen Go participated in ASHA’s Student Day on the Hill in Washington D.C.  There, they advocated for the speech and hearing sciences in regards to many different issues including the Medicare therapy cap, financial aid for graduate students, and much more.

All students in attendance personally visited the offices of their local district congress representatives, state senators, and representatives to voice their thoughts and concerns. ASHA’s Student Day on the Hill was a wonderful reminder that students, clinicians, and educators should continuously advocate for legislation that will ultimately benefit the field of CSD and the many populations served.

Photo of CSD Undergraduate Students on Capitol Hill

CSD Department Co-Hosts 5th Annual Meeting on Phonology

The Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders is pleased to announce they have partnered with the Department of Linguistics to bring the 5th Annual Meeting on Phonology to NYU’s campus September 15-17, 2017.

Assistant Professor Tara McAllister is one of the organizers of the event, and Associate Professor and Director of the PhD program Adam Buchwald will serve as one of the keynote speakers. Doctoral student in the department Heather Campbell will also present.

The conference will feature presentations on all areas of theoretical, experimental and computational phonology, and will also feature an integrated, special session Bridging the gap between phonological theory and speech disorders supported by NSF.

Registration for the conference is open through September 7th and is FREE for all students and $120 for non-students.

Please visit the Annual Meeting on Phonology website for more detailed information on the conference location and program. We look forward to seeing everyone there!


Tara McAllister Develops App for Speech Therapy

Photo of Tara McAllister AppMispronouncing the “r” sound is among the most common speech errors, and is the most challenging to correct in speech therapy. For other sounds – such as “t” or “p” – speech pathologists can give clear verbal, visual, or tactile cues to help children understand how the sound is created, but “r” is difficult to show or explain. In addition, some children may have trouble hearing the difference between correct and incorrect “r” sounds, making it even more difficult for them to improve.

A growing body of evidence suggests that speech therapy incorporating visual cues — or visual biofeedback — can help. Visual biofeedback shows a someone what their speech looks like in real time. For instance, speech might be represented by dynamic waves on a screen.

Research led by Tara McAllister, assistant professor of communicative sciences and disorders at NYU Steinhardt, and published in May in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, suggests that visual biofeedback can be effective in helping some people to correct the “r” sound.

Read more about Dr. McAllister’s work in developing the app in Steinhardt’s At a Glance blog.

Dysphagia Research in the News

Cooking for DysphagiaThis spring, Erin Embry, clinical assistant professor and Sonja Molfenter, assistant professor, were both quoted in articles sharing how to cook for a loved one of any age who has dysphagia, a common swallowing disorder. Ms. Embry teaches a class during the January term with Lisa Sasson of Steinhardt’s Nutrition and Food Studies Department bringing together students from both CSD and nutrition to study dysphagia and compete in an “Iron Chef” type competition. Dr. Molfenter, whose research focuses on disordered swallowing, served as a judge at the competition.

Recipes for People with Dysphagia: Don’t Forget Flavor (

How to Cook for a Loved One with Dysphagia (

A New Type of Cookbook Focuses on Celebrating Good Food for All (DIVERSEability Magazine)

How to Cook for A Child with Dysphagia (

Susannah Levi Publishes Study on Bilingualism in Children

Associate Professor Susannah Levi’s recent study on bilingualism in children was published in the journal Bilingualism: Language and CognitionThe study found that bilingual children are better than their monolingual peers at perceiving information about who is talking, including recognizing voices. The findings suggest yet another advantage of speaking multiple languages beyond the well-known cognitive benefits.

Processing who is talking is an important social component of communication and begins to develop even before birth. In her study, Professor Levi examined how children process information about who is talking, and sought to understand whether differences existed between children speaking one language or multiple languages.

Visit NYU Steinhardt’s At a Glance to read the full story.

Steinhardt CSD Department Students and Faculty Win NYS Speech-Language-Hearing Association Awards (NYSSLHA) Awards

We are pleased to announce that a faculty member, doctoral student, and an undergraduate student in the department recently won 2017 NYS Speech-Language-Hearing Association Awards (NYSSLHA) Awards.

The students won based on criteria that include research involvement, academic performance, clinical performance, pre-professional leadership, community involvement, and an essay explaining why they chose a career in speech-language pathology.

The Association’s honors are awarded to members who have distinguished themselves as leaders in the professions of Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, or the discipline of communication sciences and disorders. Congratulations to Dr. Harriet Klein, Mehak Noorani, and Heather Campbell!


Photo of Dr. Harriet KleinDr. Harriet Klein, Professor of Communicative Sciences and Disorders: Winner of the NYSSLHA Honors of the Association Award






Photo of Mehak Noorani
Mehak Noorani:
Winner of the Undergraduate Student Award for the best poster at the NYSSLHA convention






Photo of Heather Campbell

Heather Campbell: Winner of the NYSSLHA Doctoral Research Award.


Sonja Molfenter and Maria Grigos Win Steinhardt Faculty Challenge Grants

We are proud to announce that two of our faculty members, Dr. Sonja Molfenter and Dr. Maria Grigos, were awarded Steinhardt Faculty Challenge Grants for their respective research projects.

Photo of Sonja MolfenterAssistant Professor Sonja Molfenter received the Steinhardt Cross-Department Collaborative Award grant along with Kenneth Aigen, Associate Professor of Music Therapy. Dr. Molfenter’s current research specializes in understanding the physiological features of both normal swallowing and disordered swallowing (known as dysphagia). Dr. Aigen’s research uses musicological analyses to reveal connections between the elements of music and common cognitive, emotional, and physical goals in music therapy.

Dr. Molfenter and Dr. Aigen will collaborate on their project “High intensity group vocal exercise to improve laryngeal function in patients with Parkinson’s disease” during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Photo of Maria GrigosAssociate Professor and director of the M.S. program Maria Grigos along with speech therapist Etoile Leblanc of NYU Langone Medical Center were awarded the 2017-2018 Research Development Award for their project “Speech motor learning following facial reconstruction”. Dr. Grigos’ current research focuses on speech motor control in children and adults, with a specific emphasis on motor and language interactions.