Semin Speech Lang 2005; 26(1): 33-43
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-864214
Copyright © 2005 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Adoption Age Effects on English Language Acquisition: Infants and Toddlers from China

Rena A. Krakow1 , Shannon Tao1 , Jenny Roberts2
  • 1Department of Communication Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 2Department of Speech Language Hearing Sciences, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
24 February 2005 (online)


Children adopted from China represent the single largest group of internationally adopted children in this country. Because the adoptive families typically do not speak any Chinese language or dialect, most of these children experience an abrupt shift in their language environment. How age of adoption affects the course of English language development of children adopted from China is the focus of this study. All of the children in this study were either infants or toddlers at the time of adoption and all came from the same orphanage. The results showed that the older children (toddlers) were at both an advantage and a disadvantage when it came to English language development. The advantage of being older was that they learned faster. The disadvantage of being older was that there was more for them to learn to become age-appropriate in their English language development. There was, however, no evidence to suggest that the language switch from a Chinese- to an English-language environment was a formidable obstacle for either the infants or the toddlers.


Rena A Krakow, Ph.D. 

Dept. of Communication Sciences 265-62, Temple University

Philadelphia, PA 19122

Email: [email protected]