The long-term objective of this research is to discover how bilingual children who use cochlear implants acquire the phonological systems of their target languages, and a critical problem is that our fundamental understanding of speech development in bilingual children with hearing loss is extremely limited. Bilingual children living in the US are at risk for not receiving appropriate diagnostic and intervention speech and language services;a health care issue that is even more critical for bilingual children who are cochlear implant users. Results from this study will help clinicians make more informed decisions regarding the assessment and treatment of the speech and language of bilingual children with cochlear implants by providing empirical data on speech acquisition. The goals of the proposed project will be met via comprehensive analyses of the phonological systems of bilingual children with cochlear implants and through comparisons to bilingual children with normal hearing and monolingual English-speaking children with cochlear implants. The study has two specific aims: (1) to investigate the effects of the diminished auditory signal by comparing the phonological skills of bilingual children with cochlear implants to those of their bilingual peers with normal hearing, and (2) to examine cross-language effects by comparing the phonological skills of bilingual children with cochlear implants to those of their monolingual English-speaking peers with cochlear implants.
The aims will be addressed by conducting a comprehensive set of analyses to investigate speech acquisition in bilingual children who use cochlear implants and compare them to their bilingual peers with normal hearing and their monolingual peers with cochlear implants. General measures of phonology, specific analyses of speech, and measures of auditory comprehension and speech perception will be used to compare the performance of the groups of children. The analyses include measures that have been used with monolingual children with cochlear implants (such as segmental accuracy) as well as analyses that are novel for the target population of bilingual children with cochlear implants (e.g., phonological whole-word measures). Research on speech development in bilingual children with cochlear implants is limited, and comprehensive analyses of the phonological skills involving the same population are virtually non-existent. Moreover, research on bilingual language development in children with cochlear implants presents conflicting information regarding whether or not to recommend using both languages. The proposed study will address both of these issues, filling a critical gap in knowledge that currently acts as a barrier to progress in the field by laying the groundwork on speech development in bilingual children with cochlear implants. Furthermore, the results of the proposed research will also have an impact on clinical practice by providing information regarding the development of phonological systems in bilingual children who use cochlear implants.

Public Health Relevance

Nearly one in five people over 5 years of age (19.7% of the population) who live in the United States (US) speak a language other than English at home, of whom 62.3% speak Spanish or a Spanish Creole (US Census Bureau, 2010). High occurrence of bilingual children on speech-language pathologists'case loads also reflects this trend, but our knowledge of bilingual speech development is still limited (Moore, Prath, &Arrieta, 2006). A critical problem is that our fundamental understanding of speech sound development in bilingual children with hearing loss is lacking, and as a result, bilingual children living in the US are at-isk for not receiving appropriate diagnostic and intervention speech and language services (Goldstein, 2001). In fact, there is no consensus even regarding whether to recommend the use of one or both languages for bilingual children with hearing loss (cf. McConkey Robbins, 2007 versus Teschendorf, Janeschik, Bagus, Lang, &Arweiler-Harbeck, 2011). The proposed study will provide empirical data on speech acquisition that will, in turn, help clinicians make more informed decisions regarding the assessment and treatment of speech and language of bilingual children with cochlear implants.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Type
Small Research Grants (R03)
Project #
5R03DC012640-02
Application #
8681420
Study Section
Communication Disorders Review Committee (CDRC)
Program Officer
Cooper, Judith
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Houston
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
City
Houston
State
TX
Country
United States
Zip Code
77204