Doctoral student Adriel John (AJ) Orena wins the Raymond H. Stetson Scholarship in Phonetics and Speech Science

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Doctoral student Adriel John (AJ) Orena wins the Raymond H. Stetson Scholarship in Phonetics and Speech Science

This award was established through a grant to the Acoustical Society Foundation in 1998 to honor the memory of Professor Raymond H. Stetson, a pioneer investigator in phonetics and speech science. The purpose of the scholarship is to facilitate the research efforts of promising graduate students.  

AJ’s doctoral thesis - Growing up bilingual: How the speech input affects speech communication - examines the nature of the speech input that bilingual caregivers provide their infants and investigates how this dual-language input influences infants’ early speech production and speech processing abilities. The findings will lead to a more principled understanding of how speech communication develops in bilingual infants, which can inform both theoretical models of language acquisition and offer practical guidance for bilingual families. 

In this work, AJ makes use of the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) recording system, which is one of the many research tools available to members of the Centre for Research on Brain Language and Music. The LENA recording system serves as a clinical tool to collect language samples, and it consists of a wearable unit that can record day-long samples of a baby’s language environment. Further, the system includes an automated language analysis tool that can isolate speech signals and extract specific language parameters, including the number of words spoken by caregivers, the number of vocalizations by the infant, the number of conversational turns, and amount of noise in the background. AJ’s study is among the first to implement and evaluate the utility of this technology for assessing language input in a bilingual context.