the LENA faq
Below we answer the three most frequently asked questions about LENA.
For more information on LENA and how it works, please visit the LENA manufacturer’s website. You can also find more questions and answers about LENA, as well as parents’ experience reports of using LENA.
In almost all cases, the answer is a straightforward no. LENA devices are inserted to clothing that is specifically designed for LENA use and worn by the children. We have a wide selection of t-shirts, tops and vests in various colours and patterns. All of them have a small pocket in the front. Parents are advised to insert the LENA device in the pocket in child’s vest or t-shirt when the child is not looking. This way, the child doesn’t get curious about the device and trypically doesn’t even notice it.
The recording device weighs about 2 ounces (60 grams). The clothes are designed to fit children comfortably and to be optically liked by parents and children. Wearing one of these clothing items and the LENA device does not restrict children in any way in their movements or daily routines. The LENA devices are completely safe to use, and an increasing number of families, mainly in the United States, apply it already to track the children’s language development at home.
Most parents forget about the LENA device in their children’s vest within the first 20 minutes of the recording and go about their normal routine. It is possible to turn off the recording for some time, even though we typically advise not to turn them off, because it is easy to forget to turn it back on.
The recordings will be analyzed by the LENA software package, which provides counts of the number of words that children and adults have spoken on the recording. We will also transcribe and analyse two 5-minute segments from each day’s recordings. These segments will be selected from times when the child spoke a lot, so that we can look in more detail about how children develop their language. The recordings will be stored without identifiers to protect participants’ anonymity.
The LENA device is very easy to use: it has two buttons, one for power and one for turning the recording on and off. Slip the LENA device into your child’s vest after pressing the record button and at the end of the day take the LENA device out of the vest and press the power-off button. That’s it.
We are mainly interested in three parameters about language that LENA derives automatically by analysing the recordings with specific software package. The three parameters are (a) the number of words the child has spoken, (b) the number of words the child has heard, and (c) the number of conversations that the child has had, where the child says something, another person responds, and the child says something back again. We want to see how these three parameters relate to children’s general cognitive development and to their parents’ language and reading habits.
This is in many ways an exploratory study: we try to find out if parents and children enjoy using LENA, and if the parameters extracted by LENA software are useful for studying childhood development. In case we find something interesting, we will try to publish our findings in scientific journal. In that case, we’ll also probably try to start an even bigger project with more children and families to collect even more data on language development. No child or family will be identifiable from the data, and all recordings will be stored safely and anonymously.
Do you have another question or would like to take part in LENA? Please contact us here. We look forward to hearing from you!