The production of Mandarin tones by early-implanted children with cochlear implants: effects from the length of implantation

Yanan Shen, Zulayati Wufuer, Yujun Ren, Ping Tang*, Nan Xu Rattanasone, Ivan Yuen, Katherine Demuth

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


    Children with cochlear implants (CIs) learning tonal languages such as Mandarin Chinese face challenges in acquiring tones due to the limitation of devices in coding pitch information. Mandarin has four lexical tones and a neutral tone. A recent study [7] showed that Mandarin-learning preschoolers who were early-implanted (implanted between 1-2 years) were able to produce acoustically target-like tones but with a large amount of variability. This variability might be driven by the small sample size (only seven children were tested in that study) and the differences in length of CI experience. Therefore, the current study tested more early-implanted children and explored the effect of CI experience on their tonal acquisition. Forty-four 3-year-old normal-hearing (NH) controls and 28 early-implanted children (implanted between 1-2 years) with 1-6 years of CI experience were tested. Lexical tone and neutral tone productions were elicited and acoustically compared across groups. The results showed that children with more than 3 years of CI experience had typical tonal productions, acoustically similar to those of NH children, while those with less experience produced less distinguishable tones. These results provide acoustic evidence showing that the combination of both early implantation and longer CI experience facilitates children's acquisition of target-like tones.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020
    Place of PublicationBaixas, France
    PublisherInternational Speech Communication Association (ISCA)
    Number of pages5
    Publication statusPublished - 2020
    EventInternational Conference on Speech Prosody (10th : 2020) - Tokyo, Japan
    Duration: 25 May 202028 May 2020

    Publication series

    NameProceedings of the International Conference on Speech Prosody
    ISSN (Print)2333-2042


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Speech Prosody (10th : 2020)


    • language acquisition
    • Mandarin Chinese
    • lexical tone
    • neutral tone
    • cochlear implants


    Dive into the research topics of 'The production of Mandarin tones by early-implanted children with cochlear implants: effects from the length of implantation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this