Effect of simultaneous bilingualism on speech intelligibility across different masker types, modalities, and signal-to-noise ratios in school-age children

Rachel Reetzke, Boji Pak Wing Lam, Zilong Xie, Li Sheng, Bharath Chandrasekaran

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Recognizing speech in adverse listening conditions is a significant cognitive, perceptual, and linguistic challenge, especially for children. Prior studies have yielded mixed results on the impact of bilingualism on speech perception in noise. Methodological variations across studies make it difficult to converge on a conclusion regarding the effect of bilingualism on speech-in-noise performance. Moreover, there is a dearth of speech-in-noise evidence for bilingual children who learn two languages simultaneously. The aim of the present study was to examine the extent to which various adverse listening conditions modulate differences in speech-in-noise performance between monolingual and simultaneous bilingual children. To that end, sentence recognition was assessed in twenty-four school-aged children (12 monolinguals; 12 simultaneous bilinguals, age of English acquisition ≤ 3 yrs.). We implemented a comprehensive speech-in-noise battery to examine recognition of English sentences across different modalities (audio-only, audiovisual), masker types (steady-state pink noise, two-talker babble), and a range of signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs; 0 to -16 dB). Results revealed no difference in performance between monolingual and simultaneous bilingual children across each combination of modality, masker, and SNR. Our findings suggest that when English age of acquisition and socioeconomic status is similar between groups, monolingual and bilingual children exhibit comparable speech-in-noise performance across a range of conditions analogous to everyday listening environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0168048
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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