Speech perception in adverse listening conditions in Arabic-Hebrew bilinguals

Judith Rosenhouse, Lubna Haik, Liat Kishon-Rabin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relatively little is known about the combined effects of adverse listening conditions on bilinguals' speech perception. This study examines the effect of (1) speech rate and (2) noise, separately and combined, on bilinguals' speech perception in L1 and L2. Participants were university students, native speakers of Arabic (L1), with Hebrew L2. Speech perception tests consisted of 64 CHABA sentences adapted to Hebrew and to Arabic (32 sentences per language). In each language, speech perception was evaluated under four conditions: quiet + normal speech rate; noise + normal speech rate; quiet + fast speech rate; fast speech rate + noise. The results showed that under optimal conditions, our native speakers of Arabic in Israel had similar achievements in Arabic (L1) and Hebrew (L2). Under difficult conditions, however, their performance was poorer in L2 than in L1: background noise had a greater detrimental effect than speech rate, and the combined detrimental effect of speech rate and background noise was greater for L2 than for L1. These results highlight the importance of attention to acoustic conditions and speaker related characteristics when testing speech perception in general and especially in the case of bilinguals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-135
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Hebrew/Arabic languages
  • adverse listening conditions
  • bilinguals


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