Language acquisition and disorders

PAM program


     The PAM project was initiated by the Service de la petite enfance (now the Service de l'enfance) of the City of Vernier, a city with a very diverse population in socio-economic and socio-cultural terms. With the support of representatives from Geneva's Bureau de l'Intégration des Etrangers (BIE), the department's managers wanted to be able to offer children in early childhood care facilities (SAPE) an intervention to promote language and communication skills, with a view to preventing inequalities at school entry. In this context, contacts have been established with the psycholinguistics and logopedics research group at the University of Geneva's Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (FPSE), with a view to jointly developing a training and intervention program in the city of Vernier's SAPEs, as well as in a number of BIE-supported associative structures catering for pre-school-age children.

In concrete terms, the PAM program has several components:

- Basic theoretical training given to all educational staff during training days and/or evenings in the form of conferences and workshops. This training covers the development of language and communication in children of all ages, the problem of language delay and warning signs, and the right professional attitudes and postures to support the development of language and communication.

- The arrival of Tamara Patrucco-Nanchen, a speech therapist specializing in the implementation of PAM, at SAPE. Through her observations of situations and her practice analysis sessions during institutional colloquia (working on videos with the teams), she encourages the establishment and reinforcement of professional postures and attitudes conducive to the development of quality language interactions.

- The implementation of "language workshops" in the SAPEs, providing privileged moments of interaction to stimulate and reinforce the emergence of language;

- The use of observation grids to assess each child's language and communication skills and objectively measure progress;

- Raising parents' awareness of the importance of supporting language learning in early childhood, recognizing the role of maintaining and practicing the language(s) spoken in the child's home.


This program has been in place since 2015 in all SAPEs in the city of Vernier, before being extended to the city of Meyrin (2017-2021), and then to Carouge (2021-2022).

At the start of the 2021 school year, the impact of this program was evaluated by a study whose aim was to compare the oral language skills and abilities that are deemed predictive of written language acquisition at school entry of children who had and had not benefited from the PAM program. A report on the study and its results can be downloaded below.