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Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2005 Jul;36(3):219-29.

Classroom noise and children learning through a second language: double jeopardy?

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University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455, USA.



Two studies were conducted to investigate the effects of classroom noise on attention and speech perception in native Spanish-speaking second graders learning English as their second language (L2) as compared to English-only-speaking (EO) peers.


Study 1 measured children's on-task behavior during instructional activities with and without soundfield amplification. Study 2 measured the effects of noise (+10 dB signal-to-noise ratio) using an experimental English word recognition task.


Findings from Study 1 revealed no significant condition (pre/postamplification) or group differences in observations in on-task performance. Main findings from Study 2 were that word recognition performance declined significantly for both L2 and EO groups in the noise condition; however, the impact was disproportionately greater for the L2 group.


Children learning in their L2 appear to be at a distinct disadvantage when listening in rooms with typical noise and reverberation. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists should collaborate to inform teachers, help reduce classroom noise, increase signal levels, and improve access to spoken language for L2 learners.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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