bilingual language learning, international adoption, orphans, preschool, speech and language assessment



  1. Glennen, Sharon PhD


Children adopted from abroad at older ages have unique speech and language-learning issues. At adoption, the impact of longer stays in orphanages with their associated lack of enrichment, nutrition, and healthcare is more pronounced. After adoption, the children begin school in a new language soon after arriving home. These children quickly lose their birth language before gaining proficiency in the new adopted language, leaving them vulnerable to academic learning difficulties during the transition period. Speech-language pathologists and educators need to understand the typical progression of language learning in this unique group of children so they can determine which children need extra support during the language transition process. This article reviews preadoption issues in older children and provides preliminary information on typical patterns of speech and language acquisition observed during the first year home based on data for a group of children adopted from Eastern Europe between the ages of 2 to 4. It also discusses the impact of age of adoption on language outcomes and provides guidelines for valid assessment of speech and language in this unique population of children.