Masked english speech recognition performance in younger and older Spanish–english bilingual and english monolingual children

Margaret K. Miller, Lauren Calandruccio, Emily Buss, Ryan W. McCreery, Jacob Oleson, Barbara Rodriguez, Lori J. Leibold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare masked English speech recognition thresholds between Spanish–English bilingual and English monolingual children and to evaluate effects of age, maternal education, and English receptive language abilities on individual differences in masked speech recognition. Method: Forty-three Spanish–English bilingual children and 42 English monolingual children completed an English sentence recognition task in 2 masker conditions: (a) speech-shaped noise and (b) 2-talker English speech. Two age groups of children, younger (5–6 years) and older (9–10 years), were tested. The predictors of masked speech recognition performance were evaluated using 2 mixed-effects regression models. In the 1st model, fixed effects were age group (younger children vs. older children), language group (bilingual vs. monolingual), and masker type (speech-shaped noise vs. 2-talker speech). In the 2nd model, the fixed effects of receptive English vocabulary scores and maternal education level were also included. Results: Younger children performed more poorly than older children, but no significant difference in masked speech recognition was observed between bilingual and monolingual children for either age group when English proficiency and maternal education were also included in the model. English language abilities fell within age-appropriate norms for both groups, but individual children with larger receptive vocabularies in English tended to show better recognition; this effect was stronger for younger children than for older children. Speech reception thresholds for all children were lower in the speech-shaped noise masker than in the 2-talker speech masker. Conclusions: Regardless of age, similar masked speech recognition was observed for Spanish–English bilingual and English monolingual children tested in this study when receptive English language abilities were accounted for. Receptive English vocabulary scores were associated with better masked speech recognition performance for both bilinguals and monolinguals, with a stronger relationship observed for younger children than older children. Further investigation involving a Spanish-dominant bilingual sample is warranted given the high English language proficiency of children included in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4578-4591
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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