Bilingual children more likely to stutter

Sep 09, 2008

Children who are bilingual before the age of 5 are significantly more likely to stutter and to find it harder to lose their impediment, than children who speak only one language before this age, suggests research published ahead of print in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The researchers base their findings on 317 children, who were referred for stutter when aged between 8 and 10.

All the children lived in Greater London, and all had started school in the UK at the age of 4 or 5.

The children's carers were asked if they spoke a language other than English exclusively or combined with English at home.

Just over one in five (69) of the children spoke English and a second language at home. Thirty eight had had to learn English as one or more family members did not speak English at home.

Fifteen of the 38 children spoke only one language (not English) before the age of 5, while 23 spoke their family's native language as well as English before this age.

Thirty one children stuttered in both languages.

Stuttering began at around the age of 4.5 years, and boys outnumbered girls by 4 to 1.

Comparison with a group of children who didn't stutter showed that three quarters of them were exclusive speakers of a language other than English at home; only a quarter spoke two languages.

The recovery rate was also higher among children who exclusively spoke one language other than English at home.

Over half of children who either spoke only their native language at home up to the age of 5, or who spoke only English (monolingual), had stopped stuttering by the age of 12, when they were reassessed.

This compares with only one in four of those children speaking two languages up to this age.

There was no difference in school performance between children who stuttered, but the authors suggest that children whose native language is not English may benefit from deferring the time when they learn it. "...this reduces the chance of starting to stutter and aids the chances of recovery later in childhood," they say.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: WHO: Number of Ebola cases passes 10,000

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Non-English subjects can help migrant and refugee children

Sep 08, 2014

New research at the University of Adelaide recommends that migrant and refugee children be exposed to more non-English-based subjects - such as art and sport - to help them to make friends, transition into school education ...

How arbitrary is language?

Aug 14, 2014

Words in the English language are structured to help children learn according to research led by Lancaster University.

Latino children make greatest gains in NC Pre-K

Aug 25, 2014

A new summary of 12 years of research on North Carolina's pre-kindergarten program for at-risk 4-year-olds shows that "dual-language learners" make the greatest academic progress in the program. According ...

Recommended for you

WHO: Number of Ebola cases passes 10,000

2 hours ago

The number of people believed sickened by Ebola has passed 10,000, according to figures released Saturday by the World Health Organization, as the outbreak continues to spread.

NY and NJ say they will require Ebola quarantines

13 hours ago

The governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine for all doctors and other arriving travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2008
My guess; the biliguals leanered to have a more flexible range of expressions and sounds that they make since they learned two different langauages with 2 differeent patterns of syllables, vowel sounds etc. That flexibility extends to wierd sounds like stuttering and repeating parts of words. The mind stretching of learning two or more languages is the mental equiva;lent of a yogic person leaning to relax their joints and perfom bending of their limbs to normally impossible positions. Poeple who practice yoga sometimes develop joint problems stemming from the streching they do.The abnormal flexibiltiy of multi language children makes it possible that abnormal patterns can arise in their brains.It's possible they heard somthing similar to a stuttering sound. Bilingual stutterers' brains probably have different wiring that increases their abitilty to code nonsense from another language as sense.
notaphysicist
5 / 5 (1) Sep 23, 2008
Just my experience; however, I did not know what language I was speaking and when, nor did I understand the teacher half the time when I arrived in Kindergarten. This, to put it mildly, was a problem in my first three years in school. I solved the problem with a lot of stuttering as I switched back and forth between two languages translating as I went and thinking of TV commercials in my head to get the grammar and vocabulary/tenses right. The teachers thought I was low-IQ, because all I ever did was stutter and stammer my answers which probably were more than a bit inchoherent, and I certainly demonstrated a grasp of English several years below my chronological age. Eventually, about age 10, I got everything sorted out, but during the process I probably would have precisely matched this survey's results.