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2022 ASHA Research Symposium: Margarita Kaushanskaya, Combining Languages in the Input to Bilingual Children With Developmental Language Disorder

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posted on 2023-09-21, 13:36 authored by Margarita Kaushanskaya

This presentation video is from the Research Symposium at the 2022 Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association held in New Orleans, LA.

The abstract for the accompanying article is below. This article is part of the JSLHR Forum: Research Symposium on Bilingualism.

Purpose: Traditional approaches to studying bilingual language development through bilingual–monolingual comparisons are deeply flawed. They are also insufficient as the evidence base for informing advice to bilingual parents regarding the optimal bilingual exposure strategy and for supporting the formulation of bilingual intervention approaches. The purpose of this review article is to provide an overview of empirical studies that have queried the question of how different types of dual-language input shape learning and language outcomes in bilingual children.

Method: We rely on tightly controlled experimental studies of word learning in Spanish–English bilingual children, where we contrast children’s learning in dual-language conditions (defined as distributed exposure and code-switched input) to a single-language condition in a within-subjects design.

Results: Word-learning studies querying the role of distributed exposure indicated that distribution of exposures across Spanish and English reduced children’s performance in comparison to English-only exposure. However, this effect was rooted in the abrupt switch from Spanish to English rather than distributed exposure itself. In contrast, an experiment designed to test the role of code-switched context on children’s word learning revealed that code-switched context where switches resembled naturalistic code-switching behaviors enhanced learning in Spanish–English bilingual children. Notably, across different studies, children with weaker language skills (developmental language disorder) were no more affected by dual-language input than children with typical language skills.

Conclusions: Together, experimental studies of word learning indicate that bilingual children can effectively learn from dual-language input but that different ways of combining languages in the input to bilingual children can have distinct consequences for learning. Ultimately, word-learning experiments, beyond answering critical questions regarding bilingual learning, can serve as an effective bridge between laboratory-based work and intervention studies whose goal it is to discover the optimal way of combining languages in the input to bilingual children with communication impairments.

Kaushanskaya, M. (2023). Combining languages in bilingual input: Using experimental evidence to formulate bilingual exposure strategies. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication.


This article stems from the 2022 Research Symposium at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, which was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health under Grant R13DC003383 awarded to Margarita Kaushanskaya. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health under Grant R01DC016015 awarded to Margarita Kaushanskaya.