Second Workshop on Child, Computer and Interaction (WOCCI 2009)

Cambridge, MA, USA
November 5, 2009

Assessing the Stress/Neutral Speech Environment in Adult/Child Interactions for Applications in Child Language Development

Sanjay A. Patil (1), John H. L. Hansen (1), Jill Gilkerson (2), Sharmishta Gray (2), Dongxin Xu (2)

(1) Center of Robust Speech Systems, The University of Texas at Dallas, Center of Robust Speech Systems
(2) Infoture Foundation, USA

It is known that for effective child language development, the number of adult words heard and adult-child exchanges in the early phase (8-20 months) is important. Language development can be represented in terms of adult word count (AWC) and conversational turns (CT) between the adult and child. The focus of this study is to investigate if perceived “stress” in the adult speech side of these exchanges impacts AWC or CTs, thus potentially impacting a child’s language acquisition skills. We propose to develop a scheme to detect the presence of stress in the adult side of child-adult audio streams and relate this with metrics available for assessing language development. The proposed approach represents the first attempt to assess child-adult interactions from a stress/neutral assessment approach where recordings are monitored continuously for 12-hour periods of time. Here, a proposed speaking rate measure based on the utterance length (UL /AWC) shows a statistical correlation with stress levels, with male adults showing more significance as compared to female adults. Thus, adults increase speaking rate when under stress which impacts their ability to convey articulation details, and therefore a potential negatively impacting child language acquisition.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Patil, Sanjay A. / Hansen, John H. L. / Gilkerson, Jill / Gray, Sharmishta / Xu, Dongxin (2009): "Assessing the stress/neutral speech environment in adult/child interactions for applications in child language development", In WOCCI-2009, 117-120.