Speech perception in noise for bilingual listeners with normal hearing


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine if speech-in-noise ability, as measured by SNR-50 and SNR loss in bilingual Spanish listeners with normal hearing, was affected by test difficulty. Design: Quasi-experimental, non-randomized intervention study. Study sample: Two groups of adult listeners participated: monolingual English listeners with normal hearing (N = 12) and bilingual Spanish listeners with normal hearing who were proficient in English (N = 10). The quick speech-in-noise (QuickSIN), the Bamford-Kowal-Bench speech-in-noise (BKB-SIN), and the words-in-noise (WIN) tests were used to assess signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) loss and SNR-50 for both groups. Results: Despite the fact that the bilinguals had normal hearing and were proficient in English, each of the speech-in-noise tests evaluated indicated the Spanish listeners had measurable SNR loss and higher than normal SNR-50s. Performance on the BKB-SIN was best for both groups, indicating test difficulty had a significant impact on speech perception in noise. Conclusions: Bilingual Spanish listeners with normal hearing exhibited a mild SNR loss comparable to that observed for a person with hearing loss. This decreased performance in noise requires an improved SNR for this population to reach a comparable level of comprehension to their monolingual English counterparts.

Publication Title

International Journal of Audiology