Language Disorders Research on Bilingualism, School-Age, and Related Difficulties: A Scoping Review of Descriptive Studies

Published:December 07, 2021DOI:



      Developmental language disorder (DLD) often remains undetected until children shift from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn,’ around 9 years of age. Mono- and bilingual children with DLD frequently have co-occurring reading, attention, and related difficulties, compared to children with typical language development (TLD). Data for mono- and bilingual children with DLD and TLD would aid differentiation of language differences versus disorders in bilingual children.


      We conducted a scoping review of descriptive research on mono-and bilingual children < and >= 9 years old with DLD versus TLD, and related skills (auditory processing, attention, cognition, executive function, and reading).

      Data Sources

      We searched PubMed for the terms “bilingual” and “language disorders” or “impairment” and “child[ren]” from August 1, 1979 through October 1, 2018.

      Charting Methods

      Two abstracters charted all search results. Main exclusions were: secondary data/reviews, special populations, intervention studies, and case studies/series. Abstracted data included age, related skills measures’, and four language groups of participants: monolingual DLD, monolingual TLD, bilingual DLD, and bilingual TLD.


      Of 366 articles, 159 (43%) met inclusion criteria. Relatively few (14%, n = 22) included all 4 language groups, co-occurring difficulties other than nonverbal intelligence (n = 49, 31%) or reading (n = 51, 32%) or any 9–18 year-olds (31%, n = 48). Just 5 (3%) included only 9-18 year-olds. Among studies with any 9 to 18 year olds, just 4 (8%, 4/48) included 4 language groups.


      Future research should include mono- and bilingual children with both DLD and TLD, beyond 8 years of age, along with data about their related skills.


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