The Journal of Laryngology & Otology

Main Article

Receptive (aural) vocabulary development in children with permanent bilateral sensorineural hearing impairment

C Kiese-Himmela1 c1

a1 Department of Phoniatrics/Pedaudiology, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany


Objective: The receptive (aural) vocabulary development of children with binaural-aided residual hearing was investigated in a prospective longitudinal analysis (repeated measures).

Patient and methods: Thirty-three children with sensorineural hearing loss, without major co-morbidities (mean age at the first testing point, 56.2 months, standard deviation 19.0 months) were recruited from the 1994 German Goettinger Hearing Language Register. Their receptive vocabulary was measured using standardised tests (with reference to normal hearing child performance) on three separate test points (mean follow up, 18.7 months, standard deviation 5.0 months).

Results: On average, the study group scored below the normal range at the first and second tests and made a significant improvement at the last test. The degree of hearing loss was found to be significantly correlated to vocabulary performance at all time points, with increasing correlation coefficients. At the third test, significant predictive variables for successful receptive vocabulary outcome were found to be: degree of hearing loss (t = 5.43; p < 0.0001); age at diagnosis (t = 2.29; p = 0.03); and nonverbal intelligence (t = 2.82; p = 0.009).

Conclusion: If permanent childhood hearing impairment is mild and/or is detected early, and if the child grows up in a monolingual environment, the development of receptive vocabulary within the normal range is possible.

(Accepted May 10 2007)

(Online publication August 30 2007)


c1 Address correspondence to: Professor Dr rer nat Dipl-Psych Christiane Kiese-Himmel, Clinical Psychologist, Department of Phoniatrics/Pedaudiology, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Robert Koch Str 40, D-37075 Goettingen, Germany. Fax: 0049 551/392812 E-mail:


Dr C Kiese-Himmel takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper.

Competing interests: None declared