Vocabulary acquisition as a by-product of meaning-oriented auditory training for children who are deaf or hard of hearing

Joe Barcroft, Heather Grantham, Elizabeth Mauzé, Brent Spehar, Mitchell S. Sommers, Colleen Spehar, Nancy Tye-Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: A meaning-oriented auditory training program for children who are deaf or hard of hearing (d/hh) was assessed with regard to its efficacy in promoting novel word learning. Method: While administering the auditory training program, one of the authors (Elizabeth Mauzé) observed that children were learning words they previously did not know. Therefore, we systematically assessed vocabulary gains among 16 children. Most completed pretest, posttest, and retention versions of a picture-naming task in which they attempted to verbally identify 199 color pictures of words that would appear during training. Posttest and retention versions included both pictures used and not used during training in order to test generalization of associations between words and their referents. Importantly, each training session involved meaning-oriented, albeit simple, activities/games on a computer. Results: At posttest, the percentage of word gain was 27.3% (SD = 12.5; confidence interval [CI] of the mean: 24.2–30.4) using trained pictures as cues and 25.9% (CI of the mean: 22.9–29.0) using untrained pictures as cues. An analysis of retention scores (for 13 of the participants who completed it weeks later) indicated strikingly high levels of retention for the words that had been learned. Conclusions: These findings favor auditory training that is meaning oriented when it comes to the acquisition of different linguistic subsystems, lexis in this case. We also expand the discussion to include other evidence-based recommendations regarding how vocabulary is presented (input-based effects) and what learners are asked to do (task-based effects) as part of an overall effort to help children who are d/hh increase their vocabulary knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1060
Number of pages12
JournalLanguage, speech, and hearing services in schools
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021


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