The 1st Workshop on Child, Computer and Interaction (WOCCI2008)

Chania, Crete, Greece
October 23, 2008

Signal Processing for Young Child Speech Language Development

Dongxin Xu (1), Umit Yapanel (1), Sharmi Gray (1), Jill Gilkerson (1), Jeff Richards (1), John Hansen (2)

(1) Infoture Inc. Boulder, CO, USA; (2) CRSS: Center for Robust Speech Systems, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX, USA

Speech signal processing and other man-machine interaction technologies have been developed for improved child-computer interaction for education, entertainment, as well as other applications [1, 2]. However, for very young children (in the age range of 0 to 4 years old, and especially 0 to 2), such interaction is not encouraged [3, 4]. Instead, parent-child interaction is highly recommended [3, 4] since it promotes improved language development. In this study, a new system entitled LENATM (Language Environment Analysis) and its associate processing technologies will be introduced. LENA provides parents/caregivers with quantified statistical information concerning the language environment and development status of children in order to allow for the determination of what needs to improve and how to improve. The adult word count (AWC) estimation algorithm is shown to reduce the relative Root Mean Square Error from an initial 42% to 7-8% after 5 hours of measuring time. If LENA’s feedback suggests any potential development problem, parents can take action at a crucial early stage. LENA is a new processing system not only for parents/caregivers but for pediatricians, speech language pathologists, child development psychologists, and other researchers as well. This system represents one of the first breakthroughs in assessing early childhood language development and child environment conditions.


  1. Child-Computer Interaction Overview.
  2. M. Russell, C. Brown, A. Skilling, R. Series, J. Wallace, B. Bonham, P. Barker, “Applications of automatic speech recognition to speech and language development in young children”, ICSLP-1996.
  3. B. Hart, T. Risley, “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children”, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., Inc. 1995

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Xu, Dongxin / Yapanel, Umit / Gray, Sharmi / Gilkerson, Jill / Richards, Jeff / Hansen, John (2008): "Signal processing for young child speech language development", In WOCCI-2008, paper 20.