Veneklasen Foundation funds Nebraska study on English-as-Second-Language listeners

We are pleased to announce that members of our research group have been awarded a $31,330 grant from the Paul S. Veneklasen Research Foundation for a study on “Effects of the Acoustic Environment on Speech Comprehension by English-as-a-Second Language Listeners”!  This project seeks to determine how room acoustic conditions impact speech comprehension by normal hearing persons who use English as a second language (ESL) as compared to native English speakers.  About 21% of U.S. children ages 5-17 (or 10.9 million) speak a language other than English at home (Institute of Education Sciences 2010), but are expected to learn in their second language of English at school.  A few previous studies have shown that the speech intelligibility by ESL subjects is significantly degraded from that of native English speakers, but those investigations have not correlated results to speech comprehension or associated learning outcomes, nor have they tested under a wide range of room acoustic conditions.  The research team plans to test speech comprehension of both native English speaking and ESL participants under controlled laboratory conditions at the University of Nebraska Indoor Environmental Testing Chambers.  Fifteen combinations of background noise levels (three settings: 35, 45, and 55 dBA) and reverberation times (five settings: mid-frequency averages of 0.36, 0.59, 0.79, 0.96, and 1.12 sec) will be simulated.  Zhao ‘Ellen’ Peng is the graduate research assistant conducting the project, and she plans to present results at both the upcoming Internoise 2012 in New York City this August, as well as at the Kansas City ASA conference in October 2012.

About Lily Wang

Dr. Lily Wang is Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of the Architectural Engineering Program in the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
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