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Academic Outcomes in Bilingual Children With DLD

Aguilar-Mediavilla, E., Buil-Legaz, L., López-Penadés, R., Sanchez-Azanza, V. A., & Adrover-Roig, D. (2019). Academic Outcomes in Bilingual Children With Developmental Language Disorder: A Longitudinal Study. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.

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Key terms that are in this paper:

  • Rapid naming: the ability to name letters, symbols, words, or objects in a quick way

  • Phonological awareness: the ability to listen to and manipulate sounds in words (e.g., blending, c – a – t is “cat”)

  • Selective hearing: focusing on one source of speech

What was the aim of the study?

Developmental language disorder affects children’s daily communication. It can also impact their learning at school.

Research suggests that children with DLD can have difficulties with skills that are needed for school. For example, reading, phonological awareness, selective hearing, rapid naming, and language processing.

Difficulties with these skills might delay learning at school. This would place children with DLD at risk of academic problems.

This study aimed to:

  1. Describe the academic results of bilingual Catalan-Spanish children. The children were aged 6-12 years. There were 14 children with DLD and 14 children with typically developing language.

  2. Assess the children’s processing skills at age 6, and identify which skills predicted school outcomes over several years.

What was found?

  • Children with DLD were more likely to repeat a year of schooling.

  • Only four children with DLD were given adaptations at school (to help their learning).

  • Children with DLD overall had less ‘Pass’ rates at school compared to their peers. Their marks were lower than those of their peers on subjects that rely heavily on language. For example, science, arts education, English and languages.

  • There was no significant difference in marks for the subjects of mathematics and physical education between children with DLD and their typically developing peers.

  • Rapid naming was related to academic results in children with DLD. Phonological awareness, attention to visual information, and comprehension of instructions predicted academic results for the typically developing children.

  • When both groups were combined, spoken language comprehension was also a predictor of academic outcomes.

What do these findings mean?

Firstly, it seems that children with DLD experience more difficulties during their primary education than typically developing children. This was found in the Spanish educational system.

Secondly, children who experienced difficulties in areas such as rapid naming, phonological awareness, and oral language comprehension during the first years of school seem more likely to experience lower marks in subjects that rely on language.

Rapid naming was the key predictor of academic difficulties in children with DLD. Rapid naming is important for children to be able to read fluently (quickly and accurately). It also supports reading comprehension.

Therefore, educational prevention measures should consider these results in order to decrease academic difficulties. Children with DLD and processing difficulties should be identified at an early age. They should be supported in the classroom with their learning.

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. Please click here to find the full paper. (


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