DSF Language, Literacy and Learning Conference

The inaugural DSF Language, Literacy & Learning conference was held in Perth, Western Australia from 29th March to 1st April, 2017. This conference provided valuable information, insight and networking opportunities for learning support teachers, primary school teachers, principals, school psychologists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists working in the education field. The conference was well-attended by delegates from around the globe and feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive. Due to the success of the inaugural conference, DSF is pleased to announce that preparations are already underway for the next Language, Literacy & Learning Conference! The next conference is set to take place in 2019 and will likely be held in Perth, Western Australia however dates are yet to be finalised. Please enter your email address below to be notified when details regarding the next conference become available.

We look forward to seeing you in 2019!


30th March – 1st April 2017
Starting at 8.45am

Three days, eighty-four speakers, great resources and an amazing opportunity for anyone with an interest in improving literacy outcomes for all students. This inaugural event is not to be missed!

The Language, Literacy and Learning Conference will provide a wealth of information on the factors influencing the successful acquisition of skills in both language and literacy. It will be particularly relevant to classroom teachers, school principals and administrators, school psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, allied health professionals, tutors, parents and other key stakeholders concerned with the effective education and support of all school-aged children - including those with learning difficulties.

Professor Kate Nation

Kate Nation is Professor in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and...

Kate Nation is Professor in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St John's College, Oxford. Her research is concerned with language processing, especially reading development. She is interested in how children learn to read words and comprehend text, and more generally, the relationship between spoken language and written language. A key aim at present is to specify some of the mechanisms involved in the transition from novice to expert. She also studies language processing in skilled adults, addressing the issue of how skilled behaviour emerges via language learning experience, and reading processes in people with developmental disorders that influence reading and language. For more information visit www.readoxford.org and follow her on twitter @ReadOxford.

Professor Susan Gathercole

Susan Gathercole is a cognitive psychologist with interests in memory and...

Susan Gathercole is a cognitive psychologist with interests in memory and learning including the causes of specific learning difficulties in children and how they might be overcome. She has held academic posts at Oxford, Lancaster, Bristol, Durham, York and Cambridge universities, and since 2011 has been Director of the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge. Current projects examine the cognitive mechanisms of working memory and how they might be modified through training, and investigate through a new research clinic the dimensions of cognitive and brain that are often impaired in children with problems in attention, learning and memory. Susan became a Fellow of the British Academy in 2014 and was awarded an OBE for services to psychology and education in 2016. Susan is the author of the book Working Memory and Learning: A Practical Guide for Teachers.

Professor Kenn Apel

Dr. Kenn Apel Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and...

Dr. Kenn Apel Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Dr. Apel has more than 25 years of experience conducting research and teaching classes on language learning and working with children, adolescents, and adults with language problems and language-based learning deficits. Currently, his research focuses on the underlying linguistic components that support the development of word-level reading and spelling. Dr. Apel has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and is frequently invited to speak at national, state, and local conferences about spoken language disabilities and assessment and remediation of reading, writing, and spelling disabilities. Dr. Apel is the former Editor-in-Chief of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (2007-2009). He is a Fellow and certified member of American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). Dr. Apel is a co-author of SPELL and SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing and numerous chapters and books in the field of language and literacy. Dr. Kenn Apel is an expert in the area of Orthographic processing and spelling, an area of research that is relatively new but significant in understanding spelling delays.

Professor Pamela Snow

Pamela Snow is the Head of School, La Trobe Rural Health School. Pamela is both...

Pamela Snow is the Head of School, La Trobe Rural Health School. Pamela is both a registered psychologist and speech pathologist. Her research has been funded by nationally competitive schemes such as the ARC Discovery Program, ARC Linkage Program, and the Criminology Research Council, and spans various aspects of risk in childhood and adolescence, in particular, the oral language skills of high-risk young people (youth offenders and those in the state care system), and the role of oral language competence as an academic and mental health protective factor in childhood and adolescence; Applying evidence in the language-to-literacy transition in the early years of school; and Linguistic aspects of investigative interviewing with children / adolescents as witnesses, suspects, victims in criminal investigations. Dr. Snow has research links with the education, welfare, and justice sectors, and her research has been published in a wide range of international journals. She is frequently called upon to address education, health, welfare, and forensic audiences.

She is a Fellow of the Speech Pathology Association of Australia and is a past Victorian State Chair of the Australian Psychological Society. She has over 120 publications, comprising refereed papers, book chapters, monographs and research reports. Pamela is a member of the Deakin University Centre for Investigative Interviewing. Dr. Snow will be able to offer an Australia perspective on the integration of language and literacy, particularly as it relates to the prevention of learning delays.

Associate Professor Craig Hassed

Associate Professor Craig Hassed works at the Department of General Practice and...

Associate Professor Craig Hassed works at the Department of General Practice and is coordinator of mindfulness programs at Monash University. His teaching, research and clinical interests include mindfulness-based stress management, mind-body medicine, meditation, health promotion, integrative medicine and medical ethics. Craig is regularly invited to speak and run courses in Australia and overseas in health, professional and educational contexts. He was the founding president of the Australian Teachers of Meditation Association and is a regular media commentator. He writes regularly for medical journals and has published eleven books; “New Frontiers in Medicine” (Volumes 1 and 2), “Know Thyself” on mindfulness-based stress management, “The Essence of Health” on the lifestyle approach to health and chronic illness, a textbook co-authored with Kerryn Phelps, “General Practice: the integrative approach”, a book written with Stephen McKenzie, “Mindfulness for Life”, a book written with Richard Chambers, “Mindful Learning” on the role of mindfulness in education, a book on epigenetics titled "Playing the genetic hand life dealt you" and most recently, "The Mindful Home", written with Deirdre Hassed. Craig also featured in the documentary, The Connection and wrote the companion e-book, “The Mindfulness Manual” and co-authored with Richard Chambers the free online Mindfulness course in collaboration with Monash University and FutureLearn. Craig's most recent book written with Patricia Dobkin, “Mindful Medical Practitioners”, is on the role of mindfulness in medical education.

Dr Shaun Hawthorne

Shaun is a Principal Consultant for Visible Learningplus. As well as developing workshop...

Shaun is a Principal Consultant for Visible Learningplus. As well as developing workshop content and presenting Visible Learningplus work to schools globally, one of Shaun’s main roles is operationalising the Collective Impact Program and providing support to our national and international partners. Shaun has over 20 years’ experience working in the secondary schooling sector in New Zealand, most recently as a deputy principal in a co-educational Y9-13 school in Auckland. His portfolio there included leadership of curriculum and professional development. Previously Shaun has been Head of two English departments and has worked on a number of Ministry of Education contracts around the English curriculum and national assessments. Shaun holds a Doctor of Education degree specialising in effective practices in teaching writing.

Conference Schedule

The presenter and content of each concurrent session has been finalised and the details of these have been included in the conference program – click the ‘Workshops and Sessions’ link above to download the full program. The difficulty delegates will face is determining which of the exceptional presentations, symposia and workshops they should select! We will be running a similar program on each of the three days with a slight variation on the third day. The basic structure for each of the three days is as follows:

08:45 - 09:00
09:00 - 10:30

Keynote Presentation : Morphemes Matter : Integrating Morphological Awareness into your Literacy Assessment and Instruction

Kenn Apel

English is a morphophonemic language; that is, written english relies on morphemes as much as...Read more

English is a morphophonemic language; that is, written English relies on morphemes as much as it does phonemes to produce written words and convey their meaning. As such, it makes sense to incorporate morphological awareness, the ability to consciously consider and manipulate the smallest units of meaning in language, into literacy assessment and instruction. This presentation will include a brief overview of the development of morphological awareness followed by a discussion of morphological awareness assessment, including current measures of morphological awareness and the challenges professionals face when assessing morphological awareness. The session will end with ideas for incorporating morphological awareness activities into instruction and intervention.

10:30 - 11:00

Morning Tea and Trade Exhibition

11:00 - 12:50

Concurrent Sessions, Symposium and Workshops

12:50 - 01:30

Lunch and Trade Exhibition

01:30 - 02:30

Keynote Presentation : Making the Transition to Literacy in the First Three Years of School: Lifting the Bonnet on Oral Language Skills

Pamela Snow

Learning to read and write in the first three years of school is profoundly important...Read more

Learning to read and write in the first three years of school is profoundly important as a foundation for ongoing academic engagement and success. Across their life-span, children who do not manage to “cross the bridge” to literacy in this brief developmental window face years of everyday struggle, mental health problems, vocational and economic hardship, and difficulties joining an increasingly skill-based workforce. Much has been made in recent years of the importance of children’s early oral language skills as essential precursors to the transition to literacy, however this knowledge has not been widely and systematically disseminated to pre-service and practising teachers. This presentation will “lift the bonnet” on key concepts pertaining to receptive and expressive language skills in the early years, most notably vocabulary (semantics), grammar (morphology and syntax), the sound system (phonology and phonemic awareness), pragmatics and discourse (e.g. conversation and narrative skills), and using language to discuss language concepts (meta-linguistic skills). The importance of teachers and speech-language pathologists collaborating in the early years (and beyond) will be emphasised, as will the shared understandings this requires with respect to early oral language development and the application of evidence-based literacy instruction and supports.

02:30 - 04:00

Concurrent Sessions and Program Presentations

04:00 - 05:00

Book Signing with Pamela Snow and Sandpiper Publications

05:00 - 07:00

Conference Sundowner at Henry’s Rooftop Bar

08:45 - 10:15

Keynote Presentation : Learning to Read and Learning to Comprehend

Kate Nation

The scientific study of reading has taught us a good deal about how children learn to read..Read more

The scientific study of reading has taught us a good deal about how children learn to read. There is much though still to understand. We know relatively little about how children develop from novice to expert: how do children move from the laborious reading of individual words to the sense of effortlessness that we as skilled readers experience as we read and understand text? For many years it has recognised that reading is, at least in part, a language-based skill, and that there is a close relationship between children’s spoken language skills and their reading development. Most discussion concerning the links between language and reading has focused on phonology – the aspect of language concerned with the sound structure of speech. In contrast to this large body of work, the potential importance of other language skills to the development of reading has been less well documented. This talk will reflect on how children’s language skills shape the development of their reading systems, with particular emphasis on what is clearly the ultimate goal of reading – to understand what it is that has been read. The talk will review the language basis of reading comprehension, both in typical development and in children with poor reading comprehension. It will also consider recent intervention approaches to ameliorating reading comprehension difficulties.

10:15 - 10:45

Morning Tea and Trade Exhibition

10:45 - 12:25

Concurrent Sessions, Symposium and Workshops

12:25 - 01:15

Lunch and Trade Exhibition

1:15 - 01:30

Presentation – Talk 4 Writing

01:30 - 03:00

Keynote Presentation : Mindful Learning: Why Attention Matters in Education.

Craig Hassed

As a way of engaging attention, mindfulness is both a form of meditation and a way of living. being able to...Read more

As a way of engaging attention, mindfulness is both a form of meditation and a way of living. Being able to successfully engage and sustain attention in a mindful way is a prerequisite for anything else we wish to do. It underpins education and is important for physical and psychological wellbeing. This keynote address will explore the philosophy, science and practice of mindfulness and how it can be successfully applied in educational environments to enhance learning and teaching. Topics explored will include the role of mindfulness in managing stress and executive functioning, as well as the potentially negative impact on attention and learning of things like multitasking and excessive screen time.

3:00 - 03:10


03:10 - 04:00

Concurrent Sessions and Program Presentations

04:00 - 05:00

Trade Exhibition and Craig Hassed book signing

08:45 - 09:00
09:00 - 10:30

Keynote Presentation : A Dimensional Approach to Developmental Impairments of Attention, Learning and Memory

Susan Gathercole

Individuals diagnosed with different neurodevelopment disorders such as ADHD, dyslexia, Specific...Read more

Individuals diagnosed with different neurodevelopment disorders such as ADHD, dyslexia, Specific Language Impairment and dyscalculia share many common characteristics. To understand this, we have established a research clinic for children with difficulties spanning attention, learning and memory with assessments of cognition, behaviour, brain function and DNA. I will report data from 300 assessments showing that despite the apparent heterogeneity, two dimensions of cognition and behaviour account for their learning profiles. This approach illustrates the value of adopting a broad-based dimensional approach for understanding the fundamental constraints on children’s learning, and point to its potential for informing treatment decisions.

10:30 - 11:00

Morning Tea and Trade Exhibition

11:00 - 12:50

Concurrent Sessions, Symposium and Workshops

12:50 - 01:30

Lunch and Trade Exhibition

01:30 - 03:30

Keynote Presentation : Visible Learning Research

Shaun Hawthorne

The largest ever evidence-based research into what actually works to improve student outcomes...Read more

The largest ever evidence-based research into what actually works to improve student outcomes. Deepen your understanding of what Visible Learningplus means to teaching and learning in schools. This keynote looks at 25+ years’ research into what makes a real difference to student learning, how to apply this research method to your school and how to measure the impact of learning interventions.

03:30 - 03:45

Conference Close

Why is this conference for you?

The Language, Literacy and Learning conference will provide valuable information, current research evidence and successful strategies to teachers, practitioners and individuals concerned with the provision of effective literacy instruction to all students. It will be particularly relevant for:

Learning support teachers keen to assist with the improvement of both the initial literacy instruction and the intervention strategies delivered in the classes they support;

Principals keen to improve whole-school literacy outcomes;

School Psychologists keen to better support the schools they work with – particularly in the areas of first-wave high-quality literacy instruction, individual assessment, and with second and third wave intervention and accommodation;

Primary school teachers keen to improve reading, spelling and written expression results in their classrooms;

Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists working with students with literacy difficulties keen to improve the assessment they conduct, the therapy they provide and the recommendations they make to schools in relation to literacy difficulties;

All practitioners and parents keen to learn more about specific learning disorders in both reading and written expression – and the most effective intervention and support currently available.

Registration Fees

The inaugural Language, Learning & Literacy Conference is a not-to-be missed event with access to exceptional speakers, resources and networking. Members of DSF, all state SPELD organisations and IDA (International Dyslexia Association) will be offered discounted rates on their registration. Please ensure you have your membership details (e.g. DSF membership number, IDA membership number or SPELD coupon code) available when you register or visit the website of your nearest organisation to find out more about becoming a member. Further discounts are available for a limited number of full-time students. Please contact DSF for information about student pricing and how to access this discount. Information regarding our cancellation policy can be found here.

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Location and Venue

Area full of great hotels and restaurants.

Spend three inspiring days in the cultural and cosmopolitan city of Perth. The area is full of great hotels, restaurants and galleries.


Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre

21 Mounts Bay Rd,

Perth WA 6000

Nearby Accommodation

Special discounted rates on rooms are available to conference attendees at the hotels listed below. Please use the links to access special rates or mention the Language, Literacy and Learning Conference when forwarding your enquiry.

Parmelia Hilton

14 Mill Street,

Perth WA 6000

Adina Apartment Hotel

33 Mounts Bay Road,

Perth WA 6000

Citadines St Georges Terrace

21 Mounts Bay Rd,

Perth WA 6000

Additional details

Travelling to and from the Perth Convention Centre is made easy due to its central location and proximity to public transport routes. If you are staying outside the Perth CBD and plan on utilising public transport, trains on the Mandurah-Joondalup line travel regularly and stop at Elizabeth Quay station which is less than two minutes’ walk from the venue. Similarly, catching a bus to the Elizabeth Quay Bus Station will also put you well within walking distance of the Perth Convention Centre.

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Contact details

Phone: 08 9217 2500

Fax: 08 9217 2599

Email: conference@dsf.net.au

Street Address:10 Broome Street,South Perth, WA, 6151

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