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Intelligibility of speech in preschool children

Meta Dolinar (2014) Intelligibility of speech in preschool children. Diploma thesis.

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    Communicating through speech, which is comprehensible to co-speakers and listeners, is very important for people. The efficiency of communicating, which is also related with intelligible speech, has an effect on the quality of life. It gives us the ability to successfully express our wishes, thoughts, ideas, initiatives and messages to our co-speakers, listeners and, generally, all the people who surround us. This gives us the ability to effortlessly enforce ourselves in different micro and macro environments within family, educational institutions, work, and also in our groups of close or more distant friends, acquaintances and other co-speakers. The extent of how much a preschool child's speech will be intelligible to various co-speakers–acquaintances or strangers–depends on different factors relating to the child, the people who listen to him and surround him. Mainly, these factors include the child's age, his hearing, the presence of certain difficulties, disorders or defects in a child, different influences of his surroundings such as speech-language or communication incentives, a noisy environment and the listener's familiarity with the language spoken by child. Usually, in a period when the child's phonological development is not yet complete, children are more intelligible to their parents and acquaintances than to complete strangers. Improving the comprehension of speech is one of the key characteristics of speech and language development and significantly impacts a child's interaction with his environment. The main study of this work is speech intelligibility in preschool children. In the empirical part, the following aspects and factors which can impact a child's speech intelligibility are studied, with the help of the Intelligibility in Context Scale (Slovene) and some additional questions referring to speech intelligibility: the level of speech intelligibility according to different communication partners, the child's gender, the child's age, the presence of difficulties, disorders or defects related to the child's hearing or listening, speech, language and communication, the concerns of the parents with respect to child's speech, language or communication, and attending a speech therapist. The sample consists of children from the area of Ljubljana and its surrounding areas, aged between 2.0 and 6.0 years. Altogether, 223 children have been studied, consisting of 133 boys and 90 girls. The main interests of this work are to find out the extent to which a child is intelligible to different people at a certain age, which potential difficulties or disorders in a child have the biggest effect on his speech intelligibility, and how speech intelligibility varies according to a child's age, sex and presence of specialities, difficulties, disorders or defects. Further interests include finding out the difference in speech intelligibility between children that have speech and language difficulties and attend a speech therapist and the ones that do not, discovering those speech and language disorders that effect speech intelligibility the most, and recognizing the methods and instruments that help a speech therapist assess a child's speech intelligibility. The dissertation concludes with instructions on helping a child whose speech is mildly or completely unintelligible. The purpose of this work is to assess speech intelligibility of preschool children and examine the aforementioned factors that can effect speech intelligibility. The results of the research, which verified seven different hypotheses relating to speech intelligibility of children, show that there are no statistically significant differences in speech intelligibility between girls and boys of the same age, ranging from 2.0 and 4.0 years, regardless of the presence or absence of problems associated with speech, language or hearing. However, with children aged between 4.0 and 6.0 years, the results show that boys with difficulties are significantly less intelligible than girls with difficulties, but at the same time the boys without difficulties are significantly more intelligible than girls without difficulties. Therefore, statistically significant differences in speech intelligibility exist between boys and girls at a certain age. The research also reveals that a child's age is statistically associated with speech intelligibility, and that children whose parents are concerned about their child's speech, language or hearing are significantly less intelligible than children whose parents are not concerned about the said characteristics. Children whose parents think their child has difficulties with hearing or listening, are significantly less intelligible than ordinary children who have no difficulties in the said area. At the same time, children who have certain speech and language disorders, defects or difficulties associated with hearing, are significantly less intelligible in comparison with ordinary children. Furthermore, the results of the research show that children are more intelligible to their relatives rather than strangers. Their speech intelligibility is highest with their parents, followed by closer relatives, educators, peers, distant relatives, and acquaintances. Finally, as expected, children are least speech intelligible to strangers. Children who have difficulties, disorders or defects in the speech-language or the hearing area and attend a speech therapist are not significantly more intelligible than children who have speech-language or hearing issues, disorders or defects and do not attend a speech therapist. Statistically significant differences in speech intelligibility do not exist among these two groups of children.

    Item Type: Thesis (Diploma thesis)
    Keywords: speech and language development, speech intelligibility, questionnaire, the effectiveness of communication
    Number of Pages: 87
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    doc. dr. Martina OzbičMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=10022729)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 2095
    Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2014 12:04
    Last Modified: 09 Apr 2014 12:04
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/2095

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