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LENA Foundation

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LENA Foundation

LENA Foundation
Industry Language Technology
Founded 2009
Headquarters Boulder, Colorado
Area served International
Key people Terrance and Judith Paul (founders)
Products LENA Pro, LENA Pro - Pilot Version, LENA Pro - Graduate Student Version, LENA Language and Autism Screen (LLAS), and LENA Developmental Snapshot

The LENA Research Foundation is a developer of advanced technology to accelerate language development of children 0-5 and for research and treatment of language delays and disorders. 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 product line comprises LENA Pro, LENA Pro - Pilot Version, LENA Pro - Graduate Student Version, LENA Language and Autism Screen (LLAS), and the LENA Developmental Snapshot.[1]

LENA Research Foundation customers include institutions of higher education, such as Brown University and Stanford University, and a number of schools for children who are deaf or hard of hearing (see list).[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.[1]


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.[1]

LENA System

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 [1]

Core Language Metrics

  • 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

LENA Digital Language Processor (DLP)
LENA Clothing

A parent places a LENA Digital Language Processor (DLP) in his or her children's LENA Clothing and records an entire day of the child's sound environment. The parent then connects the DLP to a personal computer with special software that estimates the child's exposure to verbal stimulation, the number of child utterances, and other metrics. As pediatricians do with a child's height and weight, the system also generates percentile scores comparing the child's chronological age with the child's developmental age.[4]

LENA System Product Line


The foundation’s premium product, LENA Pro is designed to enable researchers, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and pediatricians to collect, process, and analyze language environment and development data easily.[5]

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 [6]

LENA Pro - Pilot Version

LENA Pro - Pilot Version provides a limited, one-year LENA Pro software license including training, support, and maintenance services.[7]

LENA Pro - Graduate Student Version

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.[5]

LENA Language and Autism Screen

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.[8]


LENA Home developed for parents, quantifies and analyzes conversations between caregiver and child, helping to ensure that child is experiencing the type of rich language environment that leads to an advanced learning trajectory.

LENA Developmental Snapshot

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.[9]

LENA Research Foundation Findings

  • 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.[10]


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External links

  • LENA Research Foundation
  • LENA Research Foundation Parent Site
  • YouTube Video
  • New York Times Article
  • Forbes Article
  • UCLA LENA Study
  • NPR Story
  • MIT Article on Autism Screen
  • CNET Article on Autism Screen
  • BBC World Broadcast on Autism Screen
  • ABC News Article on Autism Screen
  • 7News Story on Autism Screen
  • Boulder Daily Camera Article on Autism Screen
  • New York Times Chart on Parenting and Technology
  • PNAS Study
  • Nature Article on PNAS Study
  • BBC News Article on PNAS Study
  • ABC News Article on PNAS Study
  • Nova Online Article on PNAS Study
  • BBC Radio Scotland Broadcast on PNAS Study
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