When listening to speech in one’s native language a higher intelligibility is expected than when listening in a second language: perceptual and linguistic cues readily available for native listeners may be only partly accessed by non-native ones. In this study, the effects of different types of background noises on speech reception performance are compared between native and non-native listeners. Diagnostic Rhyme Tests (DRT) in the Italian language were proposed inside a university classroom of 198 m3, with a reverberation time in occupied conditions of 0.6 s, complying with the target value suggested by the German DIN18041 standard. A group of 26 normal-hearing young adults participated in the experiment: half of them native (Italian), the other half non-native (German) speakers. Listeners’ performance was assessed in three acoustic conditions (ventilation system, stationary, and fluctuating maskers) collecting data on speech intelligibility and response time. The interplay of perceptual and cognitive process in the speech reception process was then described by using the combined metric of listening efficiency.
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