Studies of Hearing Loss and Speech Communication of Bilingual Children
Kanae Nishi, Ph.D., Director of Speech Perception and Acoustics Laboratory
This study is looking at the impact of the hearing loss and knowledge of some other language on the speech communication by the bilingual children in this country.
Dr. Nishi’s project is particularly unique. We know that children who have hearing aids have a lot of difficulty understanding in noise, but what if you add the circumstance that they are also learning duel languages. How might that dual language background make it even more complicated to listen in a learning environment when it’s noisy?
We are presenting some nonsense words and asking people to listen to them in the noise and then try to see what kind of errors they make in noise.
She’s one of the first investigators to systematically explore this and it’s a very important question because the census bureau tells us that about twenty five percent of children are coming from Spanish speaking homes and very little is known about children who have hearing aids who come from those homes.
If you do not know how these kids develop you may not be able to provide them good service. Of course the results can help the Latino children. And then we want to extend those results to other smaller populations. Everybody here, clinicians, doctors, and then also the researchers, they have a lot of clinical input and then I can go up to anybody and ask, ok I’m trying to do this. Is this clinically valid? Is this clinically of interest? And then is this going to help people? That’s what I’m trying to do.
While reduced communication skills can limit success in school or in a work environment even for monolingual children, limited knowledge of English combined with diminished hearing can be extremely detrimental for learning outcomes of bilingual children. By studying speech communication in bilingual children who are hard-of-hearing, for which there are no current clinical testing norms, the results of this research may increase future awareness and assistance which could lead to better learning outcomes and well-being of bilinguals.