Vowel Production of Mandarin-Speaking Children with Cochlear Implants

Megan Harris, Samantha Borden & Camryn Ryan, “Vowel Production of Mandarin-Speaking Children with Cochlear Implants”
Mentor: Jing Yang, Communication Sciences & Disorders

Spoken language is acquired through the use of language in one’s environment and the auditory awareness of one’s own speech in the early years of life. This process of learning is hindered by hearing impairments. The cochlear implant (CI) is an auditory prosthesis that provides electrical hearing to listeners with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss, caused by damage to the inner ear or acoustic nerve, and facilitates the speech development in prelingually deafened children. The purpose of our research is to examine the production of vowel sounds by Mandarin-speaking children with CIs. A total of 10-20 children (5-10 children with normal hearing and the 5-10 children with CI) aged between 3 and 10 were recruited. The speech materials included a list of Mandarin disyllabic or trisyllabic words containing 20 Mandarin vowels. A visual-auditory repetition task was used to elicit speech samples from the participants. Each child was shown a picture on a computer screen followed by an audio prompt produced by a Mandarin-speaking adult. Each child was then asked to repeat the target word. A time-frequency analysis program, TF32, was used to track formants of the target vowel located in the first syllable of each word. Formants are a collection of acoustic energy around a specific frequency in a speech wave. The frequency of the formant determines which vowel is perceived. The vowels’ acoustic features including the formant frequency values of the first two formants and vowel duration will be compared between the children with CI and NH. The findings from this study will help researchers and clinicians better understand the true deficits and difficulty of speech production in children with CIs and design a more targeted plan for oral rehabilitation.

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