What is Listening and Spoken Language?

What is LSL? LSL stands for Listening and Spoken Language. It offers a set of strategies and principles to teach babies and young children with hearing loss spoken language through listening.

Most likely, you learned to talk by listening to your family and those around you. As humans, our brains are "pre-wired" to learn spoken language by listening. While you may think we hear with our ears, hearing is really about the brain.

When babies are diagnosed with hearing loss early and get the right hearing devices, sounds can go directly to their brain. This means they can learn to listen and talk just like a child with typical hearing. How? With your help, along with technology and a support team. You'll partner with specialists including a pediatric audiologist and an early intervention professional. The pediatric audiologist will help your baby's brain grow and access sound through hearing aids or cochlear implants. The LSL early intervention professional will guide you to use specific strategies every day to make the best use of the hearing devices and to teach your child to listen and talk.

Follow the LSL Path

There’s a proven path that helps children with hearing loss learn to listen and talk. LSL happens best when a child’s hearing loss is caught early, they get the right hearing devices, and they are taught to listen through special LSL techniques used during every parent-child interaction.

Read More About the LSL Path

We Hear with Our Brain

People often think hearing loss is an ear problem but since we hear with the brain, it’s really a "doorway" problem. If the doorway is blocked, even a little, then sound doesn’t reach the brain. Information and the building blocks for language won’t reach the brain either.

Hearing devices, like hearing aids and cochlear implants, are designed to break through that doorway and deliver key information to the brain for children with hearing loss.

Download Transcript Hear Dr. Carol Flexer, a prominent audiologist, explain how we hear with our brains and why it’s so important to open the doorway to the brain through the use of hearing devices.


Little Brains Grow Based on What They Experience

Babies are learners from day one. Your baby learns by absorbing information through their senses and through meaningful interactions with you and other caregivers. What they experience, especially what they hear, builds new connections in their brain.

As a parent, you need to know the status of your baby’s hearing first so your baby can access the sounds they need to build connections in their brain. If your baby is deaf or hard of hearing, they need properly fit hearing devices, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. When they hear you talking and interacting with them, it helps build their brain for listening. Listening helps little brains make the connections that build understanding, vocabulary, literacy, problem solving, social skills, and more.

The first 3 ½ years of your baby’s life is a key time for learning language. LSL matters if you want your baby with hearing loss to listen and talk.

Grow Your Baby’s Hearing Brain

Explore early brain development by age and see what you can do to make sure that your baby has what they need to grow their brain for listening and spoken language.

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What’s Possible?

Most children with hearing loss can and do develop great listening, spoken language, and literacy skills – just like children with typical hearing. Parents often imagine singing their baby to sleep, being able to share family stories, and hearing their child say “I love you.” With LSL, this is possible for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

We’ve created a moving docuseries, an inspiring podcast, and more to bring you real-life examples of how parents are helping their children with hearing loss do it all.

Consider What’s Possible for Their Future

With LSL your child can:

Converse with family and friends
Develop loving relationships
Learn to read and write
Achieve school success
Play sports or musical instruments
Graduate from college
Have unlimited career choices
Fully participate in their community

Know What You Want for Your Child’s Future

The diagnosis of hearing loss is often unexpected for many parents. In fact, over 95% of children with hearing loss are born to hearing parents so the diagnosis is often a complete surprise. There may be a lot of strong emotions in your family. On top of that, there are also a lot of new terms, procedures, people, and services to learn about. It can be hard to decide how to move forward.

With all the possibilities available to children with hearing loss today, the first step is to start with what you want for your child’s future. If you start with your dreams, the roadmap for the journey ahead becomes clearer. Think about all you want them to be able to do and accomplish throughout their life, like tell you they love you, make friends at school, and graduate from college. LSL makes those dreams possible.


Read More About It

Find more details on the latest research with our white paper, Mission: Probable: Age-Appropriate Listening and Spoken Language Abilities for Children with Hearing Loss.

Learn More

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