16 November 2020

CUHK “Speak Along” Online Platform Serves Over 10,000 Parents and Children
Receives HKICT Awards 2020: Smart Education and Learning Award



“Speak Along”, an online resources platform for the enhancement of language development of school age children by the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies (CSLDS) of the Department of Linguistics and Modern Language at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has been awarded the Smart Education and Learning Silver Award under the category of Smart People Award of the HKICT Awards 2020. 

“Speak Along” has been receiving full support from China CITIC Bank International Limited since 2017. It aims to provide parents and teachers with information about children’s language development and free-of-charge speech and language service to improve the language ability of children with language impairment. 

Interactive and free online language development platform to improve children's language skills 

At present, there are about 20,000 pre-school and primary school children in Hong Kong with different levels of speech impairment. Due to the limited speech therapy services available, diagnosed children need to wait for almost a year on average before they can receive subsidised intervention and support services from the government. In some cases, the wait time may even take two years. 

In light of this problem, CSLDS has developed “Speak Along”, a one-stop service model which includes an online knowledge platform, gamified mobile applications, seminar and workshop series for parents, direct speech therapy sessions and volunteer services, catering to the needs of pre- and primary-school underprivileged children with language disorders and providing them with free speech training sessions. More than 13,000 parents have already benefitted from this project. 

“Speak Along” launched its interactive mobile app in 2018, garnering more than 3,000 registrations. Through fun and interactive animations, “Speak Along” offers simple screening and diagnosis, as well as training in speech perception and production, vocabulary and grammar learning, listening and storytelling skills. The app also incorporates fundamental concepts about linguistics and language pathology, as well as useful tips for parents to support their children to improve their language ability systematically on a daily basis. The programme was highly received by parents, who found the content vivid and fun, as children can learn through games, to reduce stress from training. 

CSLDS collects unstructured data on sounds and voices as well as structured data based on children’s assessment from the mobile app for research and follow-up services, and for improving the system by enriching the contents and user experience. 

Professor Gladys TANG, Director of CSLDS and Professor of the Department of Linguistics and Modern Language, CUHK, was deeply honoured to receive the award. She said, “This award is an industry-wide recognition. Not only does it boost the morale of our team, it also affirms our efforts and directions of our endeavour to benefit the society. We promise to tailor more teaching materials and activities to open up unlimited possibilities for children.” 

About “Speak Along” online language and development platform 

“Speak Along” has been collaborating with different non-profit organizations in organizing activities to support vulnerable groups to use the learning resources and to participate in the trainings organized by ‘Speak Along’ on its platform. It provides more options for speech and language training for children of underprivileged families as well as children with language impairment. 

The objective of “Speak Along” is to enhance the language skills of children with special language needs and to support their parents in using the platform for this specific purpose. From birth till 6 years old is the critical period of language development for children. “Speak Along” aims to seize this prime time of early identification and intervention for treatment with suitable therapy. Moreover, this platform also enables parents to serve the role of a speech trainer in the home environment, as they will learn, through the platform, how to support the long-term language development of their child with a fuller range of training activities and at all times. 

About China CITIC Bank International Limited 

China CITIC Bank International Limited (CNCBI) is 75%-owned by CITIC International Financial Holdings Limited (CIFH), which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of China CITIC Bank Corporation Limited (CNCB). 

By providing value-creating financial solutions to define and exceed both wealth management and international business objectives of Greater China and overseas customers, CNCBI aspires to be “the best integrated financial services institution”, with the highest international standards and capabilities. 

CNCBI’s footprint in Greater China includes 27 branches and two business banking centres in Hong Kong, as well as branches and presence in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Macau.  CNCBI also has overseas branches in New York, Los Angeles and Singapore.  More information about CNCBI can be found on its website at www.cncbinternational.com

About HKICT Awards 

The Hong Kong ICT Awards aims at recognising and promoting outstanding information and communications technology (ICT) inventions and applications, thereby encouraging innovation and excellence among Hong Kong’s talented ICT practitioners and enterprises in their constant pursuit of creative and better solutions to meet business and social needs. 

HKICT Awards 2020 has eight award categories which includes the Smart People Award. The Smart People Award is established to promote the rights of the disadvantaged groups to participate in and contribute to the development of an information society; to encourage ICT in education for all people and safeguard their right to education with no one being marginalised; and to recognise the ICT innovations that address the challenges facing the ageing society.

Professor Gladys TANG, Director of CSLDS, CUHK, was deeply honoured to receive the award.
Professor Gladys TANG, Director of CSLDS, CUHK, was deeply honoured to receive the award.

More than 13,000 parents have already benefitted from this project.
More than 13,000 parents have already benefitted from this project.