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  • Has LENA received media coverage?
    LENA has been covered in everything from research papers from Harvard-MIT to the Netflix series “Babies.” Visit our news page to read more about our news coverage in national and local media.
  • How do you know LENA technology works?
    LENA technology has been proven in use worldwide for close to a decade by researchers, clinicians, and interventionists. Its language statistics were validated in a large-scale study that established norms for adult words, conversational turns, and child vocalizations. Every aspect of LENA technology has been extensively tested and calibrated in use through thousands of recordings in multiple languages and widely documented in published research. Download the technical reports to read more details.
  • How does increasing early talk support closing equity gaps between students?
    LENA partner sites across the country are implementing the technology as part of programs focused on closing opportunity gaps by boosting early language. Aggregated results show that relative to where they started, children whose parents or teachers participated in LENA programs are experiencing more brain-building interactions, particularly those who started the programs experiencing the least amount of talk. Children whose parents participate in the LENA Start program are gaining nearly two months of developmental skill every month. Longer-term, a longitudinal evaluation from Huntsville City Schools in Alabama looked at the school readiness of 4-year-olds whose families had participated in LENA Start an average of 2.5 years prior, finding that the children demonstrated considerably higher early literacy scores than a matched ... Read More
  • How does LENA align to my center or my school’s current evaluations?
    LENA’s programming will support the unique goals of your center or your school. Whether it’s through the lens of teacher professional development or increasing CLASS scores, we have found that our programming aligns seamlessly with your vision and priorities. Learn more about how different programs have seen results in their CLASS assessment scores using LENA.
  • How does LENA protect privacy and maintain data security?
    LENA takes data security and privacy very seriously. We have built and implemented a multitude of technologies and processes to protect your data – and we stand behind them. We are proud to be Type II SOC 2 compliant, which means that every year an outside group audits LENA to confirm that we have appropriate data and privacy protections in place and are using them correctly. In LENA Grow, LENA Start, and LENA Home, audio recordings are automatically deleted immediately after processing into data (number of words and turns, etc.). The device has no playback capability, and the software doesn’t recognize the meanings of words, so no one can ever tell what was said. LENA SP and LENA Pro are ... Read More
  • How does LENA’s “talk pedometer” technology work?
    LENA uses a small wearable device — often referred to as a “talk pedometer” — combined with cloud-based software to deliver detailed feedback that helps adults make proven, sustainable increases in interactive talk with children. Research shows that there’s significant variability in how much adults talk with children and tells us that those who talk the least tend to overestimate how much they talk the most. Adult talk levels vary significantly during the course of the day and from week to week. That’s where LENA comes in — our language-measurement technology is an objective tool to help parents and teachers understand, measure, and increase conversations with children.
  • I am a partner site, and I have an implementation question. Who do I contact for help?
    We are happy to help with any technical problems you have. Please contact our support staff by emailing support@lena.org, calling 303.441.9072, or by completing the form on our contact page.
  • Is the LENA device safe for toddler and infants?
    LENA devices are completely safe. They meet U.S. and international safety standards for electronics and toys. Unlike cell phones, they do not transmit. They use the same kind of low-power processors as hearing aids.
  • What does LENA stand for?
    “LENA” stands for Language ENvironment Analysis.
  • What is a conversational turn?
    A conversational turn is a simple back and forth alternation between a child and an adult. LENA technology counts that a turn has occurred when an adult speaks and a child follows, or vice versa, with no more than five seconds in between. Conversational turns are LENA’s proxy for quality “serve and return” interactions. Learn more here.
  • What languages can LENA technology be used with?
    Caregivers can use LENA technology in any language to see changes over time. LENA has primarily been used in English and Spanish, and studies have been published to validate adult word counts in English, Spanish, European French, the Shanghai dialect of Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Swedish. Researchers are working on validation studies in several other languages, including Hebrew, Norwegian, Danish, Vietnamese, and Brazilian Portuguese. For other languages, the word count may be less accurate, but we would expect that the error rate would be consistent, so users can still confidently measure change over time and see times of high talk and turns. This is not a comprehensive list, so please reach out to info@lena.org if you have questions about a ... Read More
  • When was LENA founded?
    LENA is a national 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that was founded in 2004 by the late Terry Paul and his wife Judi, entrepreneurs who pioneered reading, math, and testing products used in 70,000 schools in the United States and more than 50 countries worldwide. Since then, LENA has become the industry standard for measuring early talk, used by communities all over the world in programs for families and teachers. In keeping with Terry and Judi’s original vision to level the playing field for children experiencing inequities, LENA’s programs utilize the technology to couple actional feedback with coaching to help adults increase the quality and quantity of talk with children. The unique measurement tool has also fueled research breakthroughs in neuroscience and ... Read More
  • Which communities are currently using LENA?
    Organizations all over the world use LENA programs and tools to understand and enrich the language environments of children in their communities. Trusted community institutions like schools districts, libraries, hospitals, early learning coalitions, and Head Start programs are building early literacy skills, stronger families, and school readiness through collaborative partnerships with LENA. Explore our interactive map to learn more.
  • Which research studies have used LENA technology?
    For a complete listing of research studies that have used LENA technology, download the bibliographies of journal publications and LENA user research presentations. To see examples of how researchers have used LENA technology to advance the different areas of study, visit our research page to browse by subject area. Find out about the latest studies on language and brain development and read Q&As with expert researchers on the research section of the LENA blog.
  • Why is “early talk” so important for children’s development?
    Early talk is one of the most important factors shaping children’s brain development during the first few years of life. To understand why early talk matters, it’s helpful to understand what science tells us about child development during the earliest years: Brains are built from the ground up. Unlike other organs, the human brain is unfinished at birth, and must be built through interactions with adults. Research shows that back-and-forth interactions with adult caregivers are one of the most powerful tools to create a firm foundation of healthy brain architecture for children. During the first years of life, infant and toddler brains are forming more than 1 million neural connections every second, the Harvard Center on the Developing Child reports. ... Read More



Staff & Advisors

  • Betty R. Vohr, MD
    Betty R. Vohr, MD PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS, ALPERT MEDICAL SCHOOL; BROWN UNIVERSITY DIRECTOR, NEONATAL FOLLOW-UP CLINIC; WOMEN AND INFANTS HOSPITAL Dr. Betty Vohr’s research focuses on prospective studies examining the impact of interventions on the comprehensive neurodevelopmental, cognitive, motor, growth, functional, educational, and behavioral outcomes of high-risk infants, especially very low birth weight infants and infants with permanent hearing loss. Dr. Vohr has been Medical Director of the Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Program since 1990, and Coordinator for the NICHD Neonatal Research Network Follow-up Studies since 1997. Dr. Vohr has used LENA technology since 2008 to investigate the language environment of premature infants in the NICU and children with congenital hearing loss. Investigations with colleague Dr. Melinda Caskey have demonstrated ... Read More
  • Carole Brite
    Carole Brite Chief Financial Officer, LENA Carole joined LENA in August 2021 as the Chief Financial Officer and is honored to use her experience to help advance LENA’s mission of transforming children’s futures through early talk technology and data-driven programs. Carole has over 25 years of leadership experience first as an audit partner for RSM and then with several mission driven nonprofit organizations. She has served as the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, the COO of Financial Health Network, and the CAO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver. Carole earned a BS in Accounting from Indiana University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
  • Charles R. Greenwood, PhD
    Charles R. Greenwood, PhD PROFESSOR OF APPLIED BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE, SENIOR SCIENTIST AT THE INSTITUTE FOR LIFE SPAN STUDIES, DIRECTOR OF JUNIPER GARDENS CHILDREN’S PROJECT; UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS Dr. Charles Greenwood’s research is focused on evidence-based interventions. He has received KU’s highest award for research (the Irvin Youngberg Research Achievement Award in Applied Science) and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He directs Kansas City’s Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, which earned the Research Award of the Council for Exceptional Children for contributions to evidence-based practice, measurement, and for the training of researchers. Dr. Greenwood is also Co-Director of the Bio-Behavioral Measurement Core in the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. He is currently Co-Principal Investigator of a Research ... Read More
  • Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, PhD
    Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, PhD Research Professor, Professor Emerita; University of Colorado-Boulder Dr. Christine Yoshinaga-Itano’s research focuses in the areas of language, speech, and social-emotional development of deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and children. She is both a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing and an audiologist. She has concentrated on the impact of early-identification and early intervention on the developmental outcomes of children with significant hearing loss. Dr. Yoshinaga-Itano was the first to demonstrate that when infants with hearing loss are identified in the first few months of life and provided with appropriate intervention services, that 80% are able to maintain age-appropriate language development and intelligible speech in the first five years of life. She also studies the development of ... Read More
  • D. Kimbrough Oller, PhD
    D. Kimbrough Oller, PhD Professor and Plough Chair of Excellence; University of Memphis Dr. D. Kimbrough Oller’s research focuses on vocal development and acquisition of spoken language. In over 200 articles and books, his work addresses infant vocalizations, early speech production, multilingualism, and evolution of language. In addition to his position at the University of Memphis, Dr. Oller is an External Faculty Member of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Klosterneuburg, Austria. In 2013 he was awarded the Honors of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, its highest honor. His bilingualism research includes Language and Literacy in Bilingual Children. His research in evolution and development of language includes The Emergence of the Speech Capacity, The Evolution of ... Read More
  • Jill Gilkerson, PhD
    Jill Gilkerson, PhD CHIEF RESEARCH AND EVALUATION OFFICER Dr. Jill Gilkerson is the Chief Research and Evaluation Officer at LENA and leads all research and analysis activities. Since joining the team in 2005, Jill has been instrumental to just about every major initiative involving LENA. She manages a team of researchers responsible for collecting and analyzing the spontaneous speech data used for software development, the LENA normative scales, and a wide range of academic research studies. Jill is a recognized expert in the relationship between parent talk and child language development, and her research has focused on the relationship between early language environment and demographic variables such as birth order, gender, and TV exposure. Jill led LENA’s efforts through the ... Read More
  • John H.L. Hansen, PhD
    John H.L. Hansen, PhD ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR RESEARCH AT THE JONSSON SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE, PROFESSOR OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING, PROFESSOR OF SPEECH AND HEARING SCIENCES; UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS – DALLAS Dr. John H. L. Hansen’s research focuses in the field of speech processing and hearing science. He holds the University Distinguished Chair in Telecommunications Engineering, and is a Fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), Fellow of ISCA (International Speech Communications Association), and received the Acoustical Society of America’s 25th Year Award. He has graduated 66 PhD/MS thesis candidates in speech and language processing (as well as in speech and hearing science) and is an author/co-author of 495 journal and conference papers and 11 textbooks. ... Read More
  • Judith K. Montgomery, PhD, CCC-SLP
    Judith K. Montgomery, PhD, CCC-SLP Professor and Director of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program; Chapman University Dr. Judith Montgomery’s research focuses on the effects of hearing loss on adults and children; child language and vocabulary development; and response to intervention models for speech language pathologists in schools. She worked for 23 years as an SLP, elementary principal, and then Director of Special Education in school districts in southern California. A Board Certified Specialist in Child Language, she is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Communication Disorders Quarterly. She received the Annie and John Glenn Award for Outstanding Leadership in School-Based Speech Language Services and has received honors from California Speech Hearing Association and the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). She ... Read More
  • Keith J. Topping, PhD
    Keith J. Topping, PhD Director of the Centre for Paired Learning; University of Dundee, Scotland, UK Dr. Keith Topping’s research interests are in the development and evaluation of methods for non-professionals (such as parents or peers) to tutor others one-to-one in fundamental skills (such as language, reading, or math) and higher order learning across many different subjects, contexts, and ages. He also has interests in electronic literacy and computer-aided assessment and in behavior management and social competence in schools. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. He has extensive experience working with teachers, children, and parents in numerous school districts, as well as with government and non-governmental organizations, ... Read More
  • Sahar Bou-Ghazale, PhD
    Sahar Bou-Ghazale, PhD Head of Technology Innovation, LENA Dr. Sahar Bou-Ghazale is the Head of Technology Innovation at LENA and specializes in technology product roadmap development and leading new technology development. With over 20 years of experience in the areas of digital speech and audio processing for voice recognition and voice communication, Sahar has provided leadership and technical expertise from product inception to high volume production to cross-functional and remote teams. Sahar has worked and consulted for a large number of companies including Fortune 500 and start-ups, and has worked alongside world-class audio labs to pass products through stringent audio certification requirements; those products were deployed and shipped in millions of units. Sahar is passionate about applying her expertise to ... Read More
  • Soyeong Pae, PhD
    Soyeong Pae, PhD Professor and Program Director of Speech Language Pathology & Audiology; Hallym University, S. Korea Dr. Soyeong Pae focuses her research on language acquisition across life span, development of culturally and linguistically fair Korean assessment tools of language and communication, evidence-based language/reading intervention in monolingual and multicultural contexts in consideration with low social economic status and language environment, and clinical markers for language/reading difficulties from dyslexia to language learning difficulties in transparent orthography. Dr. Pae is former president of the Korean Academy of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology and chief supervisor for language facilitators in Korea for children with multicultural backgrounds. She is an associate editor of Communication Sciences & Disorders.
  • Stephen M. Hannon, PhD
    Stephen M. Hannon, PhD President and CEO, LENA Dr. Stephen M. Hannon is the President and Chief Executive Officer of LENA, a national nonprofit focused on increasing adult-child talk to improve child outcomes. Steve is privileged to lead a talented team in the shaping and scaling of the organization’s caregiver-directed initiatives that integrate LENA’s “talk pedometer” technology. Steve leverages a wealth of technical and leadership skills honed over a 25-year career spanning multiple industries. He has been instrumental in transitioning LENA from an organization known solely for its research on early language to one known for putting research into action and positively impacting children and families around the world. An expert in optical remote sensing and statistical signal processing, he ... Read More
  • Steven F. Warren, PhD
    Steven F. Warren, PhD University Distinguished Professor of Speech-Language-Hearing: Science and Disorders, Investigator with the Institute of Life Span Studies; University of Kansas Dr. Steven Warren’s research has focused on communication and language development in children with developmental delays and disabilities. Much of this work has focused on the effects of different types of communication and language interventions as well as the way that children with specific disorders (e.g., Down syndrome) respond to different approaches. Over the past 15 years he and his colleagues have conducted several randomized clinical trials on the effects of these interventions on children’s language development. For the past 10 years Dr. Warren has been investigating the impact of parenting on the development of children with ... Read More
  • Vince Swartout
    Vince Swartout Chief Information & Operations Officer, LENA After graduating Western Michigan University with a BS in Mathematics, Vince began developing web solutions for a myriad of companies and eventually led the creation of large-scale SaaS solutions. He played strategic and tactical roles building a nationwide data processing company, and helped the Dolan Company through its IPO. Along the way he developed proprietary process improvement and workflow modelling methods, became well versed in audit and information security, and saw first-hand how important it is to connect good people and good “IT.” Vince moved to Colorado and joined LENA in 2013. At LENA he is back to his real passions – creating solutions and managing teams that help LENA scale and ... Read More