As is the case with most electronics, the cost of amplifiers has fallen at the same time quality has improved. As a result, elementary school teachers are now using specially developed amplifier systems in their classrooms.

Originally created to assist hearing-impaired children, these mini-amplifiers are being used on a regular basis today to help children at the K-3 level follow instructions more easily. Because phonics are an important part of lesson plans in the earliest grades, it is crucial that children are able to hear their teachers clearly. Yet, the general noise level of an elementary school classroom—exacerbated by cinder block walls and bare floors—often makes this difficult. And because youngsters often have ear infections, even children with “normal” hearing ability may go a month or two with slightly impaired hearing.

The amplifier systems help address this problem in two ways:

1. By raising a teacher’s voice about 10 decibels (normal human voice is about 60 decibels); and

2. By bringing that voice clearly to all parts of the classroom through small, strategically placed speakers.

The systems cost less than $1,000 per classroom. Typically, they come with clip-on microphones so the teacher can walk around the classroom while talking.

One final benefit: Teachers say that with the amplifier systems, they don’t have to talk as loudly, so their voices are less strained at the end of the day.