Date of this Version
L. M. Wang. (2015) “Room acoustic effects on speech comprehension of English-as-second-language talkers and listeners versus native-English-speaking talkers and listeners” Distinguished Plenary Lecturer at 22nd International Congress on Sound and Vibration (ICSV22), Florence, Italy.
Approximately 21% of the children in the United States school system speak a language other than English at home, but are being taught in English at school. English is additionally being used more and more often as a common language in international settings, even though participants at these international events again are not native English speakers. How do adverse room acoustic environments, including higher background noise levels and longer reverberation times, impact English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) talkers and listeners versus native English-speaking talkers and listeners? This presentation focuses on two recent studies at the University of Nebraska that investigate how assorted room acoustic conditions impact English speech comprehension of ESL persons versus native English-speaking persons. In the first study, the talkers were all native English-speakers, and speech comprehension results are compared between ESL listeners and native English-speaking listeners. In the second study, the talkers were all native Mandarin-speakers, presenting in English. Speech comprehension results are compared between three groups then: native English-speaking listeners, native Mandarin- speaking listeners, and ESL listeners whose native language is not Mandarin. Results indicate that high background noise levels (RC-50 with native English-speaking talkers, and RC-40 with ESL talkers) negatively impact performance of all listening groups, but have a greater detrimental effect on ESL listeners. In terms of reverberation time, listeners with matched accent to the talkers are more capable of coping with longer reverberation, but adverse conditions (≥ 0.8 sec) do produce lower speech comprehension performance by listeners that do not have a matched accent to the talker.