Original Research

Noise, screaming and shouting: Classroom acoustics and teachers’ perceptions of their voice in a developing country

Dhanashree Pillay, Bianca L. Vieira
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 10, No 1 | a681 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v10i1.681 | © 2020 Dhanashree Pillay, Bianca L. Vieira | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 July 2018 | Published: 12 February 2020

About the author(s)

Dhanashree Pillay, Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Bianca L. Vieira, Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: The vocal demand on teachers may predispose them to vocal difficulties. This concern is exacerbated by unfavourable classroom acoustics and a large number of learners in a classroom in developing countries such as South Africa. There is a dearth of classroom acoustic protocols in South Africa, which intensifies the effect of noise on teachers as well as learners.

Aims: The aims of this study were to determine the acoustic properties within the teaching environments and to fix the foundation-phase teachers’ perceptions of their voice.

Setting: The study was conducted in Foundation Phase classrooms in South Africa.

Methods: A classroom acoustical screening survey was utilised to conduct classroom observations. A voice handicap questionnaire was used to determine teachers’ perceptions.

Results: There were two sample groups: ten schools with 31 foundation-phase classrooms and 31 teachers. Teachers perceived that their voices are affected by occupational demands, with predominantly physical symptoms being reported. Excessive background noise levels were evident in all classrooms. Air traffic noise and noise from adjoining classrooms were the main contributors.

Conclusions: The need for classroom acoustic specifications and design of classrooms are essential as both teachers and learners experience the effects of noise exposure. The implementation of noise reduction in classrooms has the potential to improve the performance of teachers and learners. In a developing country, schools are unique institutions in terms of structure, and therefore additional research is required to determine what building structures may be beneficial for future school buildings. The findings could assist developing countries in the formulation of polices that align with the best practices for acoustically suitable educational settings that benefit both teachers and learners.


teachers’ voice; classroom acoustics; developing country; teaching and learning; South Africa


Total abstract views: 3317
Total article views: 4362


Crossref Citations

1. Management of classroom acoustics by teachers at two special needs schools in Johannesburg, South Africa
Ben Sebothoma, Victor de Andrade, Nabeelah Galvaan
South African Journal of Education  vol: 42  issue: 2  first page: 1  year: 2022  
doi: 10.15700/saje.v42n2a2073