The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Processing Non-native Speech in Noisy Classrooms

Sanders Group

From Left: Lisa Sanders (psychological and brain sciences), Meghan Armstrong-Abrami (languages, literatures, and cultures), Anne Gilman (psychological and brain sciences) and Kristine Yu (linguistics).

Understanding speech in noisy environments is both necessary for healthy functioning and a considerable challenge. Classroom noise interferes with speech comprehension and hinders learning, especially in listeners trying to access education in a non-native language. There exist large disparities in a fundamental aspect of thriving in our society: access to successful speech communication in classrooms. Our new collaboration and funding will allow us to record and characterize classroom speech and noise, measure the effects of classroom noise on Spanish-English bilingual children and adults listening to English, and explore the environmental and individual characteristics that support successful speech communication in classrooms.

Funding from the Institute for Diversity Sciences is expected to produce the preliminary data, established collaboration, and evidence of student training needed for successful major research grant proposals to NIH NICHD and the Institute for Educational Sciences. Further, we will be forming the partnerships with educators that will allow for sharing our research in a manner that can positively affect educational practices for all students.