Archive for October, 2012

An article was recently published (July 2012) in the Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools Journal entitled: “Noise Hampers Children’s Expressive Word Learning.” This included some relevant information for educators, including the following (taken directly from the article):

What Are the Implications for Educators?
It has been established that background noise detrimentally
affects various aspects of school-age children’s academic
achievement (ANSI, 2002; ASHA, 2005; Berg et al., 1996;
Finitzo-Hieber & Tillman, 1978; Jamieson et al., 2004;
Manlove et al., 2001; McSporran, 1997). To this, we add
that expressive word learning is negatively affected by the
presence of energetic masking noise. As this sort of noise
resembles that produced by HVAC systems and road traffic,
school administrators should consider their compliance with
recommended noise level maximums. Steps can be taken
to reduce noise levels, including covering hard surfaces (ceilings, walls, or floors) with softer—and thereby soundabsorbing—materials such as acoustic ceiling tiles, fabrics
and carpets; glazing or replacing windows; and maintaining
or replacing HVAC systems for maximum efficiency (Ehrlich
& Gurovich, 2004).
We also demonstrated that the use of clear speech can
help children to overcome some of the detriments of learning in noise. The accuracy of word form attempt following
learning from clear speech input in a noisy environment
was not different from that following learning from plain
speech input in a quiet environment. For the purposes of
experimental control, we instructed our speaker to use clear
speech, and we recorded her in a quiet, sound-treated booth.
We then mixed this recorded signal with noise for children
who were assigned to the noise group. However, in true
noisy environments, the Lombard effect will engage, that
is, speakers will tend to modify their speech automatically
to improve their intelligibility. The implication is that many
teachers likely employ slower (and louder) speech in noisy

classrooms, which may help children to learn. Nevertheless,
clear speech involves additional changes, especially in the
hyperarticulation of the vowel space, and these changes are
associated with improvements in intelligibility (PichoraFuller et al., 2010; Smiljanić & Bradlow, 2009).
Clear speech is not difficult to teach. In fact, in the laboratory, it is typically elicited by asking people to imagine
that they are speaking to someone who is hearing impaired,
to articulate clearly, and to avoid slurring (Pichora-Fuller
et al., 2010). That said, there are individual differences,
with some people being better at clear speech than others
(Smiljanić & Bradlow, 2009). Better users increase their
vowel space to a greater extent over their plain speech register as compared to poorer users (Ferguson & KewleyPort, 2007). Therefore, there may well be advantages in
instructing teachers, especially those who must function in
noisy environments, in the use of a clear speech register.
It must be stressed that these implications represent hypotheses about steps that might lead to improved word
learning in classrooms. Evidence in support of these
hypotheses requires experimentation in actual classroom

Noise hampers expressive word learning for two potential
reasons: Noise makes it difficult to perceive the new words,
and difficult perception drains cognitive resources away
from the establishment of a robust memory trace. Either
or both may interfere with the quality of the representation
of the word form in the lexicon and the accuracy of its
production. Background noise is an everyday challenge for
school-age children, as typical classrooms are acoustically
hostile environments. However, the hypothesis generated
here is that educators may be able to help students to learn
words better by reducing ambient noise levels and adopting
a clear speech style.”

For the full article, click the link below:

Background Noise Article

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