DOI: 10.1177/13670069231195394 ISSN:

Predicting language dominance in Spanish/English bilingual adults based on relative speech-in-speech recognition scores

Tiana Cowan, Lauren Calandruccio, Emily Buss, Barbara Rodriguez, Lori J. Leibold
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education


Multiple dimensions of language dominance, such as language proficiency and demand for language use, can be reflected in bilinguals’ speech-in-speech recognition scores. This paper explores the feasibility of using a novel measure to estimate language dominance for bilinguals: relative speech-in-speech recognition thresholds (SRTs) or the within-person difference in SRTs between their two languages.


Participants were 25 Spanish/English bilingual adults ( Mage = 30 years). SRTs for sentence recognition in a language-matched two-talker masker were measured in English and in Spanish using an adaptive, open-set task. Relative SRTs were calculated by subtracting the Spanish SRT from the English SRT. Language dominance and proficiency were assessed by established measures.


Spearman correlations were used to assess the association between measures.


Relative SRTs were correlated with dominance scores derived from both a questionnaire ( rs = −.80) and standardized testing ( rs = −.80).


We tested and validated a novel measure, relative SRTs, to predict language dominance in bilingual adults. This time-efficient method could be used by bilingual researchers interested in assessing language dominance for descriptive or experimental purposes.


Relative SRTs show promise as a valid method to assess language dominance in Spanish/English bilingual adults.

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