Predicting language outcomes in bilingual children with Down syndrome

Rebecca Ward*, Eirini Sanoudaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Continuous approaches to measuring bilingualism have recently emerged as a means of understanding individual variation in language abilities. To date, limited information is available to assist in understanding the language abilities of bilingual children with Down syndrome (DS), who are specifically known to have a large variation in linguistic outcomes. Group studies in this population report that children exposed to two languages do not differ from their monolingual counterparts after considering age and non-verbal cognitive abilities, although no study to date has examined the relationship between the amount of exposure to one language and the linguistic abilities in the other language within this population. This study sought to identify whether exposure to an additional language, specifically Welsh, predicted linguistic abilities in the majority language, in this case, English. Sixty-five children between the ages of 5;5-16;9 who had varied linguistic experiences completed a range of cognitive and linguistic assessments. Results from hierarchical regression analyses show that the amount of exposure to Welsh had no impact on language abilities in English, after controlling for non-verbal cognitive abilities, short-term memory and socioeconomic status. This demonstrates that exposure to an additional language does not have a negative impact on language development, a finding that has important clinical and educational implications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2275331
Number of pages23
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Issue number00
Early online date3 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Down syndrome
  • bilingual
  • language acquisition
  • developmental disabilty
  • language disorders


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