Research and Innovation>Population Risk and Healthcare>Speech, Hearing and Communication
Communication Research Group

Speech, Hearing and Communication

The Speech, Hearing and Communication research group, led by Dr Robert Mayr, has three major strands: Bilingual Development, led by Dr Robert Mayr; Healthy and Impaired Hearing, led by Prof Fei Zhao, and Clinical Speech and Language Research, led by Prof Yvonne Wren. The latter is run in partnership with the Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit (BSLTRU). Much of our work involves national and international collaborations, notably with universities in Europe, the USA, China and Japan and Australia. These have led to high-quality outputs in international journals, and presentations at national and international conferences. We have held grants from a number of funding bodies, including the EPSRC, the ESRC, the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, Welsh Government, the NIHR and the NIH, and have several doctoral researchers.

Research / Innovation Areas

Bilingual Speech Development

Our research on bilingual and multilingual populations focuses on (1) speech development across the lifespan and (2) bilingualism and education. With respect to the former, we have a particular interest in the phonetic and phonological aspects of first and second language acquisition, first language attrition and atypical development. Our research encompasses speech perception and production, and uses a number of behavioural measures, including acoustic analysis and psycholinguistic experimentation. Current projects include work on L1 attrition of speech in English speakers living in Austria, the perception and production of early Spanish-English bilinguals, and the phonetic characteristics of new speaker varieties. 

Our work on bilingualism and education, in turn, focuses on bilingual populations in Wales in relation to two major strands: 1. Welsh-medium and bilingual higher education and 2. Bilingual education and its impact on young people’s attitudes and motivation towards the Welsh language. The former is currently concentrated on Welsh-medium provision developments within Cardiff Metropolitan University whilst the latter focuses on statutory education and Welsh Government policies that have an influence on such factors as wellbeing; second language learning; cognitive and linguistic skills; sociocultural factors and Welsh language use outside of the classroom.

Key group members:

Dr Robert Mayr

Dr Rhonwen Lewis

Dr Mirain Rhys

Ms Jiaying Li

Ms Nia Eyre

Ms Derith Rhisiart

Mr Gwion Williams

Ms Aysha Siddika

Katherine Young

Recent publications:

Mayr, R. & Morris, J. (2021, editorial). Social and psychological factors in bilingual speech production: Introduction to the special issue. Languages 6: 155, DOI: 10.3390/ languages6040155;

Li, J., Mayr, R. & Zhao, F. (2021). Speech production in Mandarin-speaking children with cochlear implants: A systematic review. International Journal of Audiology, DOI: 10.1080/14992027.2021.1978567

Rhys, M. & Smith, K. (in press). Everything we do revolves around the exam": What are secondary school students' perceptions and experiences of learning Welsh as second language in Wales? Welsh Journal of Education

Mayr, R., Siddika, A., Morris, J. & Montanari, S. (2021). Bilingual phonological development across generations: Segmental accuracy and error patterns in second- and third-generation British Bengali children. Journal of Communication Disorders 63, 106140.

Reubold, U., Mennen, I., Mayr, R., Ditteweg, S. & Melker, S. (2021). "Triggered" phonetic interaction: incremental shifts in English migrants to Austria within a code-switched paradigm. (Special Issue: Social and Psychological Factors in Bilingual Speech Production, ed. by R. Mayr & J. Morris), Languages 6(3), 114; DOI:10.3390/languages6030114

Montanari, S., Mayr, R. & Subrahmanyam, K. (2021). Maternal acculturation and speech sound production in Spanish/ English dual language pre-schoolers. (Special Issue: Social and Psychological Factors in Bilingual Speech Production, ed. by R. Mayr & J. Morris), Languages 6(2), 78, published 22 April 2021, DOI:10.3390/languages6020078

Healthy and Impaired Hearing

Our research into healthy and impaired hearing investigates the following areas in audiology and hearing science:

  • Clinical application of AI technology for automated diagnosis of middle ear disorders
  • Improving accessibility and quality of global hearing healthcare for children living with hearing impairment
  • Applications of deep learning in sound classification and speech enhancement
  • Tinnitus intervention and cognitive function
  • Music over-exposure and hearing health education

Using cutting-edge technology and sophisticated behavioural measures, our research aims to gain a better understanding of the nature of hearing impairment and to find solutions in terms of clinical application and social impact.

Key group members:

Prof Fei Zhao

Dr Tariq Rahim

Mrs Eirwen Jones

Ms Jiaying Li

Mr Tianxiang Lan

Mr Nadeem Mahafza

Recent publications:

Grais EM, Wang XY, Wang J, Zhao F, Jiang W, Cai YX, Zhang LF, Lin QW, Yang HD. 2021, Analysing wideband absorbance immittance in normal and ears with otitis media with effusion using machine learning. Scientific Reports, 11:10643.

Chen FF, Zhao F, Mahafza N, Lu W. 2021, Detecting Noise-Induced Cochlear Synaptopathy by Auditory Brainstem Response in Tinnitus Patients with Normal Hearing Thresholds. Frontiers in Neuroscience (Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience) 20 December 2021 |

Lan LP, Li JH, Chen YH, Chen W, Li WR, Zhao F, Chen GS, Liu JH, Chen YC, Li YQ, Wang CD, Zheng YQ, Cai YX. 2021, Alterations of brain activity and functional connectivity in transition from acute to chronic tinnitus. Human Brain Mapping. 42:485–494.

Mahafza N, Zhao F, El Refaie A, and Chen FF. 2021,  A comparison of the severity of tinnitus in patients with and without hearing loss using the tinnitus functional index (TFI) International Journal of Audiology. 60(3):220-226.

Cai YX, Yu JG, Chen YB, Liu C, Xiao LC, Grais EM, Zhao F, Lan LP, Zeng SX, Zeng JB, Wu MJ, Su YJ, Li YQ, Zheng YQ. 2021, Investigating the Use of a Two-Stage Attention-Aware Convolutional Neural Network for the Automated Diagnosis of Otitis Media from Tympanic Membrane Images: a Prediction Model Development and Validation Study. BMJ Open. 11:e041139. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-041139

Chen FF, Cao ZW, Grais EM, Zhao F. 2021, Contributions and Limitations of Using Machine Learning to Predict Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health. 94(5), 1097-1111. DOI:10.1007/s00420-020-01648-w

Lan TX, Cao ZW, Zhao F, Perham N. 2021, The Association between Effectiveness of Tinnitus Intervention and Cognitive Function – A Systematic Review. Frontiers Psychology- Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.553449.

Clinical Speech and Language Research

Speech and language therapy is a clinical profession serving the needs of people across the lifespan who have speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties. Our aim is to understand the needs of the patient and clinician communities in order to carry out research which leads to clinical impact. This includes investigating the causes and origins of different types of communication and swallowing impairment to understand how we can prevent problems occurring as well as researching the best ways to support and help those experiencing these difficulties. This research area is run in partnership with Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit (BSLTRU) Bristol Speech & Language Therapy Research Unit | North Bristol NHS Trust (

Key Group Members:

Prof Yvonne Wren

Dr Sam Burr

Dr Sam Harding

Dr Lydia Morgan

Ms Kath Broomfield

Ms Caitlin Holme

Dr Lucy Southby

Dr Rhonwen Lewis

Dr Robert Mayr

Ria Bayliss

Kate Tucker

Carys Williams

Recent publications:

Wren, Y.E.  (2021) Children with Speech Sound Disorder – who should we treat and how?. Revista Portuguesa de Terapia da Fala. (Portuguese Journal of Speech and Language Therapy). DOI:

Prince, A., Marsden, J., Wren, Y., Hayhow, R., Harding, S. (in press) The Fluency Trust Residential Course for Young People who Stutter: A Pragmatic Feasibility Study. Journal of Communication Disorders.

Holme, C., Harding, S., Lucas, P., Roulstone, S. & Wren, Y. (in press) Mapping the Literature on Parent-Child Language across Activity Contexts: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Early Years Education.

Lane, H., Harding, S. & Wren, Y. (in press) A Systematic Review of Early Speech and Language Therapy Interventions for Children with Cleft Palate. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.

Group Members

Ria Bayliss Rhonwen Lewis
Ria Bayliss
Senior Lecturer and Academic Associate (PhD)
Dr Katherine Broomfield
Senior Research Associate
Dr Rhonwen Lewis
Senior Lecturer
Dr Robert Mayr
Reader in Linguistics (Group Lead)


Dr Mirain Rhys
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Dr Lucy Southby
Senior Research Fellow in Speech and Language Therapy
Prof​​ Yvonne Wren
Professor in Speech and Language Therapy
Katherine Young
Lecturer in Bilingual Research Methods and PhD student

Prof​ Fei Zhao
Reader in Hearing Sciences
Ms Nia Eyre
PhD student (joint with Cardiff University)
Ms Esther Goodhew
RCBC First Into Research Fellow
Dr Sam Harding
Health Psychologist and Research Fellow



​Mr Tianxiang Lan
Academic Associate (PhD)
​Ms Jiaying Li
Academic Associate (PhD)
Mr ​Nadeem Mahafza
Academic Associate (PhD)
​​Dr Lydia Morgan
Research Associate


​Dr Tariq Rahim
Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Hearing Sciences)
Ms Derith Rhisiart
Academic Associate (PhD)
Ms Aysha Siddika
RCBC First Into Research Fellow
​​Kate Tucker
Academic Associate (PhD)

​​Mr Gwion Williams
Academic Associate (PhD)


Professor Ineke Mennen, Universität Graz, Austria

Dr Simona Montanari, California State University, Los Angeles, USA

Dr Jonathan Morris, Cardiff University, UK

Dr Yiqing Zheng, Sun Yat-sen University, China

Dr Vinaya Manchaiah, Lamar University, USA

Dr Emad Grais, University of Sheffield, Sheffield

Professor Sharynne McLeod, Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, Australia.

Professor Lawrence Shriberg, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.

Dr Cathy Stein, Case Western University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Professor Angela Morgan, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia.

Professor Cristina McKean, Newcastle University

Professor Jonathan Sandy, Bristol University

Examples of Funding

Evidence review of universal, population and targeted interventions which support speech, language and communication (SLC) development in the early years. (Wren, Y., Harding, S., McKean, C., Mayr, R., Lewis, R., Roulstone, S., Williams, A.) Welsh Government. December 2021- April 2022. £29,898.

Maximising the impact of speech and language therapy for children with speech sound disorder. (Wren, Y., Harding, S., Cleland, J., Stringer, H., Hawkes, C., Hemmings, L., Lascelles, L., Wallace, S.) NIHR Research for Patient Benefit. 2022-2023. £150,418.

Review of early language screening suitable for children in Wales. (Wren, Y., Mayr, R., Lewis, R., Roulstone, S., Williams, A.) Welsh Government. July 2021 – December 2021, £24,976.

Speech sound perception and production in Spanish/English bilingual preschoolers (Montanari, S & Mayr, R) National Institutes of Health (NIH) R15 Grant, 2021-2024, US $438,000.

Development of an Artificial Intelligence System for the Automated Diagnosis of Otitis Media with Effusion in Children (Zhao, F), NIHR AI-Award, 2021-2022, £150,000

Using a Deep Learning Algorithm for Automatically Diagnosing Childhood Otitis Media with Effusion (Zhao, F.), Global Academies Fellowship Grant, Cardiff Metropolitan University, 2021, £10,000.

Enhancing Infrastructure for Fostering a Culture of Digital Healthcare and Adopting Artificial Intelligence Technology in Healthcare Provision (Zhao, F. & Grais, E.) Ser Cymru III Enhancing Competitiveness Infrastructure Award, 2019-2020, £9697.2.

When your native language sounds foreign: Characterising foreign accent in first language attrition, (Mennen, I. & Mayr, R.), FWF [Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, Austria] Stand-alone Project Grant, 2020 – 2023, €398.436,53.

Innovative Approaches for Investigating Hearing Sensitivity in Childhood Otitis Media with Effusion: Clinical Investigation vs. Theoretic Analysis (Fei Zhao), Chinese Association of Audiology and Beijing Bio-Engineering Research Centre,2017-2020, £91,000.