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Sources of variability in language development of children with cochlear implants: age at implantation, parental language, and early features of children's language construction*



The aim of the present study was to analyze the relative influence of age at implantation, parental expansions, and child language internal factors on grammatical progress in children with cochlear implants (CI). Data analyses used two longitudinal corpora of spontaneous speech samples, one with twenty-two and one with twenty-six children, implanted between 0;6 and 3;10. Analyses were performed on the combined and separate samples. Regression analyses indicate that early child MLU is the strongest predictor of child MLU two and two-and-a-half years later, followed by parental expansions and age at implantation. Associations between earliest MLU gains and MLU two years later point to stability of individual differences. Early type and token frequencies of determiners predict MLU two years later more strongly than early frequency of lexical words. We conclude that features of CI children's very early language have considerable predictive value for later language outcomes.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr Gisela Szagun, Institut für Psychologie, Fakultät VI, Medizin und Gesundheitswissenschaften, Carl-von-Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Postfach 2503, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany. e-mail:


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This research was funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Science Foundation) grants no. Sz 41/5-1, 2 and no. Sz 41/11-1, 2 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, Tanja Hampf, Sonja Arnhold-Kerri, Elfrun Klauke, Stefanie Kraft, Nina Sondag, Claudia Steinbrink, Barbara Stumper, and Tim Oesterlau helped with data collection, transcription, and analysis. Special thanks go to Bodo Bertram, who provided the facilities and support for our data collection at Cochlear Implant Centrum Wilhelm Hirte, Hannover, Germany.



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