Concept — Reference Coherence in Speech Perception: Consequences for Native and Second Language Speech Comprehension in Noise
Simple Norwegian  and English  everyday sentences were read by a bilingual adult, tape recorded and presented individually to adults with English (n=13) or Norwegian (n=13) as their first language and with good (university level) command of the other language. Sentences were presented at 65 dB SPL with a background noise of sufficient intensity to mask the sentence. The level of the noise was progressively reduced in 2 dB steps until the subject could adequately repeat the sentence. Normal hearing was assured by pure tone threshold audiometry prior to testing.
The results demonstrated that for both groups the native language sentences were correctly repeated after fewer presentations, i. e., (approximately 3 dB) lower signal-to-noise ratio than the second language sentences (p<0.001), even under these “close to optimal” conditions.
The results show that second language message comprehension may be impaired under backgraound noise conditions that are sufficient for adequate comprehension of native language speech. The phenomenon may thus have negative influence upon acquisition of information presented in a foreign language, e. g., influence safety/control operations that are verbally based.
KeywordsSound Pressure Level Speech Perception Language Comprehension English Sentence Speech Comprehension
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