Is oral bilingualism an advantage for word learning in children with hearing loss?

Beatriz de Diego-Lázaro, Andrea Pittman, María Adelaida Restrepo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine whether oral bilingualism could be an advantage for children with hearing loss when learning new words. Method: Twenty monolingual and 13 bilingual children with hearing loss were compared with each other and with 20 monolingual and 20 bilingual children with normal hearing on receptive vocabulary and on three word-learning tasks containing nonsense words in familiar (English and Spanish) and unfamiliar (Arabic) languages. We measured word learning on the day of the training and retention the next day using an auditory recognition task. Analyses of covariance were used to compare performance on the word learning tasks by language group (monolingual vs. bilingual) and hearing status (normal hearing vs. hearing loss), controlling for age and maternal education. Results: No significant differences were observed between monolingual and bilingual children with and without hearing loss in any of the word-learning task. Children with hearing loss performed more poorly than their hearing peers in Spanish word retention and Arabic word learning and retention. Conclusions: Children with hearing loss who grew up being exposed to Spanish did not show higher or lower word-learning abilities than monolingual children with hearing loss exposed to English only. Therefore, oral bilingualism was neither an advantage nor a disadvantage for word learning. Hearing loss negatively affected performance in monolingual and bilingual children when learning words in languages other than English (the dominant language). Monolingual and bilingual children with hearing loss are equally at risk for word-learning difficulties and vocabulary size matters for word learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-978
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Is oral bilingualism an advantage for word learning in children with hearing loss?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this