Ellen Ravndal and Sidsel Holiman

Development of bimodal multilingualism in a child with cochlear implants


Thursday 7 November, 11.30-12.00, E0105

This study was carried out in a state owned kindergarten. It follows one severely hearing impaired child who was between 3,5 and 4.5 yrs during the study. The child uses the languages spoken Norwegian, spoken Kurdish Sorani (Sorani) and Norwegian Sign Language in his communication. The staff at the kindergarten uses spoken Norwegian and Norwegian Sign Language in their communication. In addition there is a Sorani language teacher in the kindergarten two hours a week. 

The study investigates to what degree does the child develop multilingualism, and in which situations he uses the different languages.  The study is a video based case study; the observations were done during one year both in the kindergarten and in the child’s home. During the presentation video examples will be used to illustrate important findings. 

The key findings of this study show that the child develops spoken Sorani and spoken Norwegian with the support of Norwegian Sign Language. The impressive language skills are better than the expressive language skills for spoken Norwegian and Sorani.  The advanced hearing aid which a cochlear implant constitute, gives profoundly deaf children the opportunity to develop a spoken language, assuming satisfactory technological, environmental and pedagogical conditions are present. The challenges concerning the learning of a spoken language through a cochlear implant will be discussed. 

This child was given a cochlear implant at the age of two, which is considered late. His development of lingual concepts had started some time before, through the use of sign language. Development of spoken languages started shortly after the cochlear implantation. The importance of initial sign language development for spoken language development will be discussed.  In the kindergarten the child met spoken Norwegian and Norwegian Sign Language; in his home environment he met spoken Sorani as well as Norwegian Sign Language, although spoken Sorani was the main language at home. The importance of the mother tongue, Sorani, for the language development in general will be discussed. 

The child had developed age adequate sign language at the time of the study. The spoken languages, Norwegian and Sorani, are also developed. Due to late implantation these languages are not developed at an age adequate level at the time of the study. 

The child appropriately switches between lingual codes and modalities. The child shows that he has developed sensitivity to interpersonal communication, and metacognitive and metalinguistic skills. The code switching happens instantaneously.