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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

It is generally assumed that deaf and hard-of-hearing children’s difficulties in learning novel words stem entirely from impaired speech perception. Degraded speech perception makes words more confusable, and correctly recognizing words clearly plays an important role in word learning. However, recent findings suggest that early auditory experience may affect other factors involved in linking the sound patterns of words to their referents. This chapter reviews those findings and discusses possible factors that may be affected by early auditory experience and, in turn, also affect the ability to learn word-referent associations. These factors include forming representations for the sound patterns of words, encoding phonological information into memory, sensory integration, and quality of language input. Overall, we learn that in order to understand and to help mitigate the difficulties deaf and hard-of-hearing children face in learning spoken words after cochlear implantation, we must look well beyond speech perception.

Keywords: word learning, speech perception, phonological encoding, audiovisual integration, linguistic input, deaf, cochlear implants

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