Listening for language: Perception, production, use and understanding of grammatical endings by children with cochlear implants

Date of Completion

January 2001


Health Sciences, Audiology




This study sought to clarity the relationships between improved auditory access provided by cochlear implants and spoken language development of children with severe and profound hearing loss. This was achieved by comparing auditory alone reception of grammatical markers with auditory plus visual marker reception, spontaneous use of markers in language, and comprehension of markers in pictures in both normally hearing and hearing-impaired subjects. ^ Subjects in this study were 30 children with normal hearing and 30 children with cochlear implants between the ages of 5 and 17. Stimuli were 19 grammatical markers documented as early emerging in children with normal hearing (Brown, 1973). All subjects completed the following tasks in a sound-treated booth: (1) Auditory alone marker perception in words; (2) Auditory alone marker perception in sentences; (3) Auditory plus visual marker perception in words; (4) Auditory plus visual marker perception in sentences; (5) Comprehension of markers in pictures; (6) Use of markers in language during a story-retelling task; (7) Spontaneous speech production of markers; (8) Imitated speech production of markers. ^ Two experienced judges scored listening, speech production, and language tasks from videotapes. Additional demographic, educational, and therapeutic variables were obtained through the use of parent and therapist surveys. ^ Results of independent t-tests showed significant differences in performance on all tasks for implant users and their peers with normal hearing. Results of regression analyses indicate that, for implant users, proportion of education spent in a mainstream environment explained a significant amount of the variance in accuracy of marker production, marker use, and auditory alone recognition of markers. Use of markers in a story-retelling task was correlated with auditory alone recognition of markers in sentences, suggesting that auditory access to spoken language as provide by a cochlear implant results in improvements in expressive language. Comprehension of markers was best predicted by length of cochlear implant experience and was not a significant predictor of marker use in expressive language. ^