Most of us have never considered what it takes to speak, especially in our own language. While training to be a Speech-Language Pathologist, an instructor asked my class “How would you describe making a single sound, an /s/?”. We found our selves uncharacteristically silent, as we gathered our wits together and began the task. Consider it. It’s not that simple is it? Describing how to make a single phoneme requires context, vocabulary, and personal experience making the sound, at least. Now imagine trying to explain it to a person who has none of that, because the sounds they know and use for their language are so different.
As we become an increasingly global society, we find ourselves interacting more with colleagues, employees, and potential employees or employers who have a different native language. Perhaps they learned English through courses, but their accent continues to be a barrier to their communication, and a barrier to career and relationship success. Although our technology opens so many ways to communicate, speaking person to person will always be essential. Nothing replaces a good conversation to build trust, forge partnerships, and remove confusion that could end opportunities before they begin.
Offering services as a Speech Therapist allows me to draw on a myriad of skills. Yes, I know how to describe a sound, but I also apply my training and experience to assess a client’s intonation for a statement or a question, sound production of consonants and vowels, and patterns of errors based on a native language. Oral motor movement and structure must also be assessed for to fully know how an individual speaks. And don’t forget the social aspect of communication: the smile, the eye contact, the flow of the breath all create the most positive environment for a happy exchange. The exchange that impresses a potential employer, a new client, or just a new friend. And that, dear reader, is the value of Speech Therapy—priceless.