Age or Experience? The Influence of Age at Implantation and Social and Linguistic Environment on Language Development in Children With Cochlear Implants PurposeThe authors investigated the influence of social environmental variables and age at implantation on language development in children with cochlear implants.MethodParticipants were 25 children with cochlear implants and their parents. Age at implantation ranged from 6 months to 42 months (Mage = 20.4 months, SD = 22.0 months). Linguistic progress ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2012
Age or Experience? The Influence of Age at Implantation and Social and Linguistic Environment on Language Development in Children With Cochlear Implants
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Barbara Stumper
    Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
  • Correspondence to Gisela Szagun: gisela.szagun@gmail.com
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Emily Tobey
    Associate Editor: Emily Tobey×
Article Information
Development / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   December 01, 2012
Age or Experience? The Influence of Age at Implantation and Social and Linguistic Environment on Language Development in Children With Cochlear Implants
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2012, Vol. 55, 1640-1654. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0119)
History: Received May 16, 2011 , Accepted March 20, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2012, Vol. 55, 1640-1654. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0119)
History: Received May 16, 2011; Accepted March 20, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 26

PurposeThe authors investigated the influence of social environmental variables and age at implantation on language development in children with cochlear implants.

MethodParticipants were 25 children with cochlear implants and their parents. Age at implantation ranged from 6 months to 42 months (Mage = 20.4 months, SD = 22.0 months). Linguistic progress was assessed at 12, 18, 24, and 30 months after implantation. At each data point, language measures were based on parental questionnaire and 45-min spontaneous speech samples. Children’s language and parents' child-directed language were analyzed.

ResultsOn all language measures, children displayed considerable vocabulary and grammatical growth over time. Although there was no overall effect of age at implantation, younger and older children had different growth patterns. Children implanted by age 24 months made the most marked progress earlier on, whereas children implanted thereafter did so later on. Higher levels of maternal education were associated with faster linguistic progress; age at implantation was not. Properties of maternal language input, mean length of utterance, and expansions were associated with children’s linguistic progress independently of age at implantation.

ConclusionsIn children implanted within the sensitive period for language learning, children’s home language environment contributes more crucially to their linguistic progress than does age at implantation.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Science Foundation) Grants Sz 41/11-1 and Sz 41/11-2, awarded to the first author. We are most grateful to the children and their parents who so willingly participated in this study. Mohsen Haj Bagheri, Melanie Franik, Nina Sondag, Tim Oesterlau, and Sarah Deutscher helped with data collection and transcription. Special thanks go to Bodo Bertram, Ingeborg Maneke, and Volker Meyer, who provided the facilities and support for our data collection at the Cochlear Implant Centrum Wilhelm Hirte in Hannover, Germany.
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