Queen's University

Speech study enriches experience for School of English students

[PhD student Takashi Mitsuya]Takashi Mitsuya explains his research studio in the Speech Production Lab, directed by Dr. Kevin G. Munhall. Mr. Mitsuya hopes his research will ultimately help language learners and people with impaired hearing to perceive their own speech better and control it as they wish.

Students at the Queen’s School of English (QSoE) have played a vital role in a four-year study led by Psychology PhD student Takashi Mitsuya that has changed a paradigm in speech research.

“Many of our students say how much they appreciate the opportunity to contribute to meaningful research,” says Karen Burkett, Coordinator of Special Programs and Research, QSoE. “Takashi’s project gives our students the chance to see a team of Canadian researchers in action and to meet and engage with members of the Queen’s community they might not otherwise meet.”

Mr. Mitsuya examines how people hear their own voices and the ways they use that information to monitor or fine-tune their articulation. The relationship was thought to be universal, much the same way everyone fine-tunes their aim when playing darts by five centimetres to the right if they are five centimetres off to the left. He found, however, the way speakers correct themselves depends on the language they speak.

“The students from QSoE who have visited the lab have been invaluable to this project,” says Mr. Mitsuya. “They’re also language learners and really interested in ideas about how they learn a language efficiently. Many of them ask loads of questions after I explain the experiment.”

Mr. Mitsuya wants to explore how his findings could lead to improved hearing assistance devices and new language learning strategies. He grew up in Japan and moved to the United States to pursue his undergraduate and Master’s degrees. Like many international students, he found it challenging learning a new language and experiencing many cultural differences. He hopes one day his research helps ease that transition.

QSoE connects to the broader university community in many additional ways. Visit the QSoE website to learn more about its activities and its 70th anniversary celebrations.

Speech Perception and Production Laboratory

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Last updated at 3:43 pm EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
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