Does Bilingualism Increase Stuttering?

Maybe, but I don’t think so. What we do know is that we don’t really know enough about how bilingualism interacts with stuttering. We know that bilingualism doesn’t make autism worse; we know that bilingualism doesn’t increase the risk of language impairment, so consistent with these findings; I think that bilingualism shouldn’t make stuttering worse. There is one study that reports that children who start learning their second language later in childhood bilinguals are less likely to stutter than bilinguals who start using both their languages from an early age. As pointed out however, it seems that the prevalence of stuttering in bilinguals is no higher (or maybe less) than that of monolinguals. I think however we need to get a handle on what stuttering looks like in bilinguals to make accurate diagnosis. We know for example that bilinguals demonstrate more tip of the tongue phenomena and that mazes (pauses, hesitations, reformulations) are different in different languages.

We recently completed a review of the literature examining published peer-reviewed articles that focused on bilingual or multilingual persons who stutter. We were curious about how researchers describe the bilingual or multilingual status of participants in their studies. What we found is that most studies included information about proficiency and we found a lot of inconsistency. About half the studies included information about bilingual history; and a little less than half included information about how people used their two (or more) languages. But, wouldn’t this be important for studies of bilinguals who stutter? It’s important to know when and how and why someone became bilingual. It would be important to know how much they use each of their languages and for what purpose(s). It would also help to know which of their two languages is better—or if they are equally proficient in both languages. These are some of the questions that could help us to understand how bilingualism and stuttering interact and would help researchers compare results across studies. So, it was surprising to find out that there are still many inconsistencies. I’m confident however that as people continue to study stuttering in bilinguals that more of these descriptions will be included.

In terms of clinical application, I think we need to be cautious and make sure that we’re not over-diagnosing or under-diagnosing stuttering. Because we don’t know enough about its manifestation in bilinguals we also don’t know if the same monolingual rules apply. So, I would probably want to observe some to make sure. On the other hand, you don’t want to wait too long before treating if it is true stuttering. I know that several people are working on these questions and we’ll know more before long.


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  1. #1 by Personal Injury Attorney Anchorage Alaska on May 31, 2013 - 10:55 am

    It’s full of information I’ve needed. Thanks for sharing this study.

  2. #2 by Bail Bondsmen on July 13, 2013 - 5:13 am

    I think bilingualism has a good effect.

  3. #3 by San Antonio Movers on July 30, 2013 - 12:51 am

    I wanted to study furthermore about Bilingualism..

  4. #4 by Cesar M. on August 1, 2013 - 5:17 pm

    As a bilingual and a person who stutters, I tend to stutter more when speaking Spanish (my second language). I suspect this is so because as a late learner (began in my mid-20’s) my vocabulary is still limited. With the limited vocabulary I then tend to focus more on what I am saying and whether i am choosing the correct word and /or pronunciation. As a person who stutters, I have experienced that when I focus on what I am saying –that is, focus on speech–whether in English and especially in Spanish, I stutter more. If my focus is on the person I am speaking to or something other than what I am saying and especially how I am saying it, my speech is much more fluent.

  5. #5 by Anonymous on August 4, 2013 - 11:57 pm

    Thanks for the response Cesar. Your situation is a meaningful example of the dynamic nature of bilingualism in individuals who stutter, particularly in adults. Adults who stutter, unlike children, bring a unique set of challenges to the table that are often over-looked in research. As you described, ‘thinking’ about being fluent is often a recipe for less fluent speech, regardless of language spoken. Internal/external stressors such as this can contribute to difficulties maintaining fluent speech, regardless of dominance. As discussed in the article, the jury is still out for the precise interaction of stuttering and multilingualism. Increased stuttering in the less dominant language is certainly possible, but may have many origins. For example, a more restricted vocabulary may also limit use of certain strategies we adopt as adults who stutter, such as word substitution. It also may be a product of using a ‘less automatic’ speech production system. Much more research is required to disentangle the precise nature of the disorder in the context of bilingualism. But your response illustrates an important point – factors beyond language and speech itself need to be considered when examining stuttering in adult bilinguals.

  6. #6 by Austin Auto Accident Lawyer on August 17, 2013 - 8:34 am

    Excellent information and an interesting discussion.

  7. #7 by Zespri Green Organic Kiwifruit on August 20, 2013 - 11:05 pm

    This blog contains so many interesting stuff that makes me want to visit again and again.

  8. #8 by Manila Tour on August 22, 2013 - 1:40 am

    For me, I want to know many languages. It’s a skill.

  9. #9 by Red Bank Maid Service on September 17, 2013 - 2:02 am

    Its an advantage to understand and know different languages. it make sense on how you use it and knowing the time where to use it.

  10. #10 by Investment Property Orlando on September 20, 2013 - 8:28 pm

    Knowing two languages or more was must increase some of self-confidence due to when you travel it really will help you a lot. due to communication specifically asking other nationality for some important information.

  11. #11 by Adriss on September 24, 2013 - 1:54 am

    thanks for sharing this .
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  12. #12 by lumber19 on October 2, 2013 - 8:34 pm

    i want to know many languages, its an advantages to understand different languages from other countries

  13. #13 by Orlando Wedding Venues on October 5, 2013 - 12:47 am

    maybe but i think it cool if you know a lot of languages

  14. #14 by Skagway Tours on October 6, 2013 - 9:16 pm

    i want to know many languages to understand different languages from other countries and knowing the time where to use it.

  15. #15 by Aluminum Jet Boats on October 7, 2013 - 12:44 am

    all languages are beautiful and it is amazing for someone to speak a lot of languages.

  16. #16 by I Romera on February 26, 2014 - 11:05 am

    This article is absolutely amazing. I’m researching on this area and this has been of great help to me. I’m also of the opinion that bilingualism is not the CAUSE for stuttering. Thank you!

  17. #17 by All Star Seattle Fishing, we catch fish on April 29, 2014 - 9:40 am

    this be important for studies of bilinguals who stutter?

  18. #18 by user voted top sites, Seattle Fishing site info on August 1, 2014 - 10:20 pm

    Its my first time to hear about it., sounds interesting.

  19. #19 by Informative URL for Top Georgetown Towing on April 11, 2015 - 11:47 pm

    Its like a skill and advantages if you know 2 or more languages.

  20. #20 by Anonymous on March 18, 2016 - 8:03 am

    I do not think there is any connection between stuttering and bilingualism. The mentioned study had a sample of 317 stuttering people, and still only 69 of them were bilingual. So the rest were monolingual, if I am not mistaken. Does it really prove any connection between bilingualism? Supposedly, the bilinguals are even slightly more represented in the world. Ideally, it would be good to take 2 equal groups randomly (1 monoligual and 1 bilingual) and see how many of them present that speech disorder. Moreover, I think that social-economic conditions have to be always taken into account when conducting such a research, especially when dealing with stuttering, which can a consequence of a psychological trauma. How many of these bilingual children have been bullied, for example? Do they find their living conditions oppressing towards their language and culture?

  21. #21 by Visit us Securities Attorney on October 24, 2016 - 8:54 am

    I think we need to be cautious and make sure that we’re not over-diagnosing or under-diagnosing stuttering. Because we don’t know enough about its manifestation in bilinguals we also don’t know if the same monolingual rules apply.

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    I want to learn more about it.

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    I want to know more.

  25. #25 by Cypress Storage on September 21, 2019 - 8:33 am

    Bilingualism is a kind of achievement.

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