Wordlikeness and word learning in children with hearing loss

Derek J. Stiles, Karla K. McGregor, Ruth A. Bentler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background The more a novel word conforms to the phonotactics of the language, the more wordlike it is and the easier it is to learn. It is unknown to what extent children with hearing loss (CHL) take advantage of phonotactic cues to support word learning. Aims This study investigated whether CHL had similar sensitivities to wordlikeness during a word-learning task as children with normal hearing (CNH). Methods & Procedures Sixteen CHL and 24 CNH participated in a novel word-learning task. Novel words varied by English wordlikeness. Recall was tested using a forced-choice identification task wherein foils for each trial related semantically, lexically or not at all. Receptive vocabulary and working memory were also assessed. Outcomes & Results All children were able to identify high wordlike novel words more accurately than low wordlike novel words. The number of errors on identification of words that were moderate in wordlikeness was inversely correlated to vocabulary size (not working memory) and CHL had smaller vocabularies than CNH. When in error, CHL were more likely than CNH to select a semantically related foil. Conclusions & Implications Although they are sensitive to extremes in wordlikeness, compared with their peers with normal hearing, CHL present with subtle differences in word learning. Clinical implications for exploiting wordlikeness in service of word learning assessment and intervention are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-206
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • children
  • fast-mapping
  • hearing impairment
  • lexicon
  • vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Wordlikeness and word learning in children with hearing loss'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this