Acoustical Science and Technology, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 190-201, 2007 (Paper Award)
Education system in acoustics of speech production using physical models of the human vocal tract
Abstract: In this paper, we present and discuss an educational system in the fields of acoustics and speech science using a series of physical models of the human vocal tract. Because education in acoustics is relevant for several fields related to speech communication, it hosts students from a variety of educational backgrounds. Moreover, we believe that an education in acoustics is important for students of different ages: college, high school, middle school, and even elementary school students. Because of the varied student populations, we develop an educational system that instructs students intuitively and effectively and consists of the following models: lung models, an artificial larynx, Arai’s models (cylinder and plate type models), Umeda and Teranishi’s model (a variable-shape model), and head-shaped models. These models effectively demonstrate several principal aspects of speech production, such as phonation, source-filter theory, the relationship between vocal-tract shape/tongue movement and vowel quality, and nasalization of vowels. We have confirmed that combining the models in an effective way produces complete education in the acoustics of speech production. The examinations and questionnaire surveys conducted before and after using our proposed system revealed that the learners’ understanding of what improves with the use of the system. The system is also effective for voice and articulatory training in speech pathology and language learning.
Keywords: education in acoustics, vocal tract model, vowel production, speech science, acoustic phonetics