Teacher talk strains voices, especially for women

October 26, 2009

October 23, 2009 -- Teachers tend to spend more time speaking than most professionals, putting them at a greater risk for hurting their voices -- they're 32 times more likely to experience voice problems, according to one study. And unlike singers or actors, teachers can't take a day off when their voices hurt.

Now a new study by the National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) reveals how teachers use their voices at work and at home and uncovers differences between male and female teachers. Its findings will be presented at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) next week in San Antonio, TX.

Eric Hunter, deputy director of the NCVS, and colleagues equipped teachers with the NCVS voice dosimeter, a device which captures voicing characteristics such as pitch and loudness rather than actual speech. The dosimeter sampled their voices 33 times per second. The researchers analyzed 20 million of these samplings which were collected during waking hours over a 14 day period for each teacher.

Female teachers used their voices about 10 percent more than males when teaching and 7 percent more when not teaching. The data also indicated that female teachers speak louder than male teachers at work.

"These results may indicate an underlying reason for female teachers' increased voice problems," writes Hunter.

All of the teachers spoke about 50 percent more when at work, at both a higher pitch and a volume (about 3 decibels louder). Instead of resting their overworked voices at home, the teachers also spent significant amounts of time speaking outside of work.
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The talk "Variations in intensity, fundamental frequency, and voicing for teachers in occupational versus non-occupational settings" (1aSC14) by Eric Hunter is on Monday, October 26.

Abstract:
http://asa.aip.org/web2/asa/abstracts/search.oct09/asa47.html

MEETING INFORMATION

Main meeting website:
http://asa.aip.org/sanantonio/sanantonio.html

Full meeting program:
http://asa.aip.org/sanantonio/program.html

Searchable index:
http://asa.aip.org/asasearch.html

WORLD WIDE PRESS ROOM

ASA's World Wide Press Room (www.acoustics.org/press) contains additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and lay-language papers, which are ~500-word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio, and video.

PRESS REGISTRATION

We will grant free registration to credentialed full-time journalists and professional freelance journalists working on assignment for major news outlets. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, please contact Jason Bardi (jbardi@aip.org, 301-209-3091), who can also help to set with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science of technology of sound. Its 7,500 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world's leading journal on acoustics), Acoustics Today magazine, books and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. For more information about ASA, visit our website at http://asa.aip.org.

American Institute of Physics

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