How “Proficient” Is Proficient? Bilingual Listeners' Recognition of English Words in Noise Purpose Shi (2011, 2013)  obtained sensitivity/specificity measures of bilingual listeners' English and relative proficiency ratings as the predictor of English word recognition in quiet. The current study investigated how relative proficiency predicted word recognition in noise. Method Forty-two monolingual and 168 bilingual normal-hearing listeners were included. Bilingual listeners ... Research Article
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Research Article  |   March 01, 2015
How “Proficient” Is Proficient? Bilingual Listeners' Recognition of English Words in Noise
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lu-Feng Shi
    Long Island University—Brooklyn Campus, NY
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Lu-Feng Shi: lu.shi@liu.edu
  • Editor and Associate Editor: Larry Humes
    Editor and Associate Editor: Larry Humes×
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   March 01, 2015
How “Proficient” Is Proficient? Bilingual Listeners' Recognition of English Words in Noise
American Journal of Audiology, March 2015, Vol. 24, 53-65. doi:10.1044/2014_AJA-14-0041
History: Received August 28, 2014 , Revised November 13, 2014 , Accepted November 21, 2014
 
American Journal of Audiology, March 2015, Vol. 24, 53-65. doi:10.1044/2014_AJA-14-0041
History: Received August 28, 2014; Revised November 13, 2014; Accepted November 21, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose Shi (2011, 2013)  obtained sensitivity/specificity measures of bilingual listeners' English and relative proficiency ratings as the predictor of English word recognition in quiet. The current study investigated how relative proficiency predicted word recognition in noise.

Method Forty-two monolingual and 168 bilingual normal-hearing listeners were included. Bilingual listeners rated their proficiency in listening, speaking, and reading in English and in the other language using an 11-point scale. Listeners were presented with 50 English monosyllabic words in quiet at 45 dB HL and in multitalker babble with a signal-to-noise ratio of +6 and 0 dB.

Results Data in quiet confirmed Shi's (2013)  finding that relative proficiency with or without dominance predicted well whether bilinguals performed on par with the monolingual norm. Predicting the outcome was difficult for the 2 noise conditions. To identify bilinguals whose performance fell below the normative range, dominance per se or a combination of dominance and average relative proficiency rating yielded the best sensitivity/specificity and summary measures, including Youden's index.

Conclusion Bilinguals' word recognition is more difficult to predict in noise than in quiet; however, proficiency and dominance variables can predict reasonably well whether bilinguals may perform at a monolingual normative level.

Acknowledgment
I thank all of the volunteers who contributed to, and participated in, this study.
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