LENA Foundation

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LENA Foundation
Industry Language Technology
Founded 2009
Headquarters Boulder, Colorado
Area served
Key people
Terrance and Judith Paul (founders)
Products LENA Start, LENA Pro, LENA Pro - Pilot Version, LENA Pro - Graduate Student Version, LENA Language and Autism Screen (LLAS), and LENA Developmental Snapshot
Website http://www.lenafoundation.org

The LENA Research Foundation is a developer of advanced technology to accelerate language development of children 0-5 and to close opportunity gaps. The nonprofit organization was created in 2009 through a donation of assets of Infoture Inc. by Terrance "Terry" and Judith "Judi" Paul, who are also majority owners of Renaissance Learning Inc. (RLI).

The foundation’s principal product is the LENA System. The LENA System comprises the LENA recorder, patented processing software, and secure, cloud-based data access. [1]

LENA Research Foundation customers include institutions of higher education, such as Brown University and Stanford University, hospitals, other research institutions, and a number of schools for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.[2]


As the founder of Renaissance Learning, Terry Paul became familiar with the achievement gap caused by differences in home language environments. In 1998 he read Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Lives of Young American Children by Betty Hart, Ph.D., and Todd Risley, Ph.D. Based on data gathered through an intensive longitudinal study, Meaningful Differences revealed that the number of adult words spoken to children from birth to three predicted almost all of the variance in the children’s language ability and IQ at age three.

Terry realized that with the help of advanced speech recognition technology he could streamline the data acquisition process and provide parents with a tool that was easy to use and could thoroughly chart a child’s natural language environment. He called it LENA (for “language environment analysis”).

In 2004 Terry started Infoture, Inc. and hired a team of scientists, engineers, and scientific advisors to conduct the research and development work for the LENA System. Infoture launched a pilot version of the LENA System in February 2006. In February 2009 the Pauls donated the assets from Infoture and a gift of $2 million to create the LENA Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization.[3]


LENA Research Foundation believes that the more talk and conversational engagements a child experiences in the first four years, the better off he or she will be in academics and society. With its growing list of LENA System products, the foundation is determined to help close the gap between the haves and have nots that frequently divides this country and the world.[3]

LENA System[edit]

LENA stands for "Language ENvironment Analysis." The LENA System provides more than 25 different metrics on the natural language environment of children, including estimates and percentile scores for adult words spoken to the child, conversational turns, and child vocalizations. The system also generates an automatic expressive language developmental age and percentile score based on a child’s voiceprint.[3]

Core Language Metrics[edit]

  • Adult Word Count (AWC): The AWC is the number of words a child hears from an adult within a specific period. The LENA System provides breakdowns of AWC in five-minute, hourly, daily, and monthly reports.
  • Conversational Turns (CTs): CTs occur when a child vocalizes (initiates) and an adult responds or an adult speaks (initiates) and a child responds. Each time that happens one turn is counted. CTs are one of the only ways to measure engaged interaction with a child. The LENA System offers breakdowns of CTs in five-minute, hourly, daily, and monthly reports.
  • Child Vocalizations (CVs): A CV is counted when child speech of any length is surrounded by greater than 300 milliseconds of silence or other sound that is not child speech. CVs do not include cries or vegetative sounds. The LENA System provides breakdowns of CVs in five-minute, hourly, daily, and monthly reports.


How LENA Works[edit]

LENA Digital Language Processor (DLP)
LENA Clothing

A parent places a LENA recorder (also known as a digital language processor or DLP) in his or her children's LENA clothing and records an entire day of the child's sound environment. The recorder is then connected to a computer with special software that processes the recording into data metrics including the child's exposure to verbal stimulation, the number of child utterances, and other information. As pediatricians do with a child's height and weight, the system also generates percentile scores comparing the child's vocalizations with those of other children the same age.[5]

LENA System Product Line[edit]

LENA Start[edit]

LENA Start is a program for parents that uses regular feedback from the LENA System plus eight weekly group sessions to help improve the home language environment.[6] Since its introduction in 2015, LENA Start has been implemented by school districts, library systems, and other types of organizations in Huntsville, Ala., San Mateo County, Calif., Ames, Iowa, and Minneapolis, Minn.[7] Texas Children’s Hospital is the first regional healthcare center to adopt the model.[8]

LENA Pro[edit]

LENA Pro is designed to enable researchers, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and pediatricians to collect, process, and analyze language environment and development data easily.[9]

LENA Pro enables users to:

  • Record up to 16 hours of continuous speech data
  • Collect and manage multiple recordings from a variety of clients or groups
  • Process up to 120 audio files per month
  • View reports in five-minute, hourly, daily, or monthly time frames
  • Listen to and view audio files
  • Mark, organize, and find specific audio segments easily and efficiently
  • Add research or clinician notes and comments
  • Export data and audio
  • Conduct advanced analyses using the ADEX data mining tool [10]

LENA Pro - Pilot Version[edit]

LENA Pro - Pilot Version provides a limited, one-year LENA Pro software license including training, support, and maintenance services.[11]

LENA Pro - Graduate Student Version[edit]

LENA Pro - Graduate Student Version is a version of LENA Pro that is available for two years and for a client management pool of up to 25 research subjects.[9]

LENA Language and Autism Screen[edit]

LENA Language and Autism Screen (LLAS) analyzes child vocalizations to automatically and objectively calculate the risk of autism, identify the presence of language delays, and assess the quality of a child's language environment.[12]

LENA Developmental Snapshot[edit]

The LENA Developmental Snapshot, based on a 52-question parent survey, assesses both expressive and receptive language skills and provides an estimate of a child’s developmental age from 2 months to 36 months.[13]

LENA Research Foundation findings[edit]

  • Parents estimate that they talk more with their children than they actually do.
  • Most language training comes from mothers, with mothers providing 75 percent of the total talk in a child's environment.
  • Mothers talk approximately 9 percent more to their daughters than to their sons.
  • Parents talk more to their firstborn child than to their other children.
  • Most adult talk in a child's environment occurs in the late afternoon or early evening.
  • Children of talkative parents are also talkative.
  • The more television a child watches, the lower his or her language ability scores tend to be.
  • Parents of children with autism tend to talk less the more severe their child's symptoms. Conversely, the stronger their child's language abilities, the more parents talk.[14]


  1. ^ "LENA Start™ -". www.lenafoundation.org. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  2. ^ "LENA Pro". www.lenafoundation.org. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  3. ^ a b c [1] Archived February 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20090216015226/http://www.lenafoundation.org/Resources/Glossary.aspx. Archived from the original on February 16, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Baby-Talk Show". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  6. ^ http://www.lenafoundation.org/lena-start/. Retrieved June 17, 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "West metro program helps parents build babies' and toddlers' vocabularies". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  8. ^ "Texas Children's Hospital Becomes First Healthcare Organization to Launch LENA Start". PRWeb. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  9. ^ a b "Search thousands of SLP jobs - All Jobs". SpeechPathology.com. 2015-06-17. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  10. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20090923023552/http://www.lenafoundation.org/ProSystem/Overview.aspx?. Archived from the original on September 23, 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20111007040236/http://www.lenafoundation.org/LenaPro-Pilot.aspx. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "LENA Research Foundation – Nurturing minds, changing lives". Lenababy.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  13. ^ [2][dead link]
  14. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20090223104856/http://www.lenafoundation.org/Research/TechnicalReports.aspx?. Archived from the original on February 23, 2009. Retrieved April 24, 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]