How Well Do Children Who Are Internationally Adopted Acquire Language? A Meta-Analysis

Scott, Kathleen A.; Roberts, Jenny A.; Glennen, Sharon
August 2011
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Aug2011, Vol. 54 Issue 4, p1153
Academic Journal
Purpose: In this article, the authors present the results of a systematic and meta-analytic examination of the language outcomes of children who are internationally adopted. The study examined the questions of whether the early life experiences of children who are internationally adopted and the language switch that occurs after adoption hinder the acquisition of language skills. Method: The authors selected available studies on the language acquisition of internationally adopted children using search strategies from both a comprehensive set of databases and manual searching of selected studies. Study eligibility criteria included (a) participants clearly identified as being internationally adopted, (b) measurable language outcomes were reported, (c) a control group or normative measure was used in the design of the study, and (d) effect size was reported, or data were provided to calculate effect size. Results: The meta-analysis found that as a group, the children expressed great variability in their language skills. Overall, they were more likely to have poorer language outcomes than comparison children, but several moderating variables were found. Conclusions: The results of the meta-analysis have direct clinical application regarding the assessment and treatment of language skills of internationally adopted children. The study also has implications for future studies of the language development of internationally adopted children.


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