September 12, 2013 Alicia Castro 10Comment

The further I research my dissertation paper “Impact of Hearing Loss in Higher Education,” the more I’m reminded about my hearing loss struggles in education. Currently, I’m reading an article about children receiving speech therapy at an early age when they’re diagnosed with hearing loss. Children receiving speech therapy are more likely to improve their communication and speak normal in their everyday lives. That’s not how it went for me.

I was enrolled at a public elementary school system, diagnosed with hearing loss at age 8, and wore hearing devices since age 9. I received speech treatment once or twice for less than 5 minutes. The rest, I was on my own. No mentor and no tutor. I re-read the textbooks more than twice. I memorized each word and each letter to make sure my spelling was correct.

Yes, I failed all my homework assignments earning Fs in my elementary school years. I visualized earning a perfect score. I never got the perfect score I always wanted. I copied the words and pronunciation people spoke in their everyday lives. Many adults judged me for mispronouncing words.

At middle school, I was enrolled at a private catholic school. My hearing loss was reported, but no offered help with my pronunciation. A few good friends of mine taught me how to improve my reading comprehension skills. Their help improved my grades.

In my public high school years, I decided to not report my hearing loss diagnosis. After so many years of bully, embarrassment, and judgement; I did my best to blend in. I was rarely bullied.

By the time I started college in my undergraduate years, the harassment stopped, or I believed it stopped. There was a guy and and his girlfriend who enjoyed making fun of every word I spoke. I ignored them whenever I saw them.

One day, while I lived in a co-ed dorm, I asked Edward, a friend, to let me borrow his calculator. He was quiet when I asked but everyone who lived in the same hall heard my pronunciation and laughed because I mispronounced “calculator.” They laughed so loud that I was about to cry. Unfortunately, the way I was pronouncing calculator was “cok-u-later.” Edward, knowing that I was crushed and embarrassed, corrected my pronunciation. He asked if I mispronounced calculator during my elementary, middle, and high school years. I said “yes.” He felt sad and anger that no one helped to correct my pronunciation. Edward is the first friend to help me improve my pronunciation without calling me “an idiot.”

My college roommate of four years, Sarah, offered speech therapy sessions everyday. I am forever indebted to her for always being there and helping me improve my pronunciation. If it weren’t for her, I would probably continue to struggle communicating and interacting with others. She used to joke that I should pay her for four years of private speech sessions.

I’m sure there are many people out there who have never received speech therapy and are afraid to ask for help. If you know you’re having difficulty pronouncing words, please come forward and ask a person to provide you speech lessons. As a friend, family, and strangers. No matter how many times you’ve been bullied, harassed, and shunned; wonderful people exist and they will help you if you come forward. It’s time for you to be bold and brave. 

10 thoughts on “Pronunciation Problems with Hearing Loss

  1. I just saw this now. I only saw your most recent post today. I hadn’t seen anything for a while, so once I saw the one from Monday, I decided to read that, then look back, and I came across this. I do remember the mispronunciation, but I didn’t remember doing that. I’m glad I could help!

  2. I just saw this now. I only saw your most recent post today. I hadn’t seen anything for a while, so once I saw the one from Monday, I decided to read that, then look back, and I came across this. I do remember the mispronunciation, but I didn’t remember doing that. I’m glad I could help!

  3. Your story is really very touching and full of motivation as well. My younger sister is also deaf by birth and yes she too has problem with pronunciation. I will surely give her speech therapy sessions from now on wards. I wasn’t aware of this side of coin before reading your story. She recently gets hidden hearing aids fitted from http://www.hiddenhearing.ie/ and she is improving every day. She is a very intelligent girl and I hope she too achieve success in her life like you.

    1. Thank Shane for the lovely comment you wrote on my blog. Hearing from you motivates me to continue to blog because there are many people who want to help their loved ones who are struggling with hearing loss. The more you help your sister improve her pronunciation – her self-esteem, communication and engagement will improve ultimately leading her to become a successful future leader. Thank you for being understanding and kind to your sister. There will be days where she will get angry and that’s because she needs to be reminded by you that you’re helping her because you love her. Push her to improve her words no matter how many times she tries to give up. Eventually, she will start speaking better because you never gave up on her. Love your sister and show her that you care and trustworthy…that’s the only way you can save and help your sister.

  4. Your story is really very touching and full of motivation as well. My younger sister is also deaf by birth and yes she too has problem with pronunciation. I will surely give her speech therapy sessions from now on wards. I wasn’t aware of this side of coin before reading your story. She recently gets hidden hearing aids fitted from http://www.hiddenhearing.ie/ and she is improving every day. She is a very intelligent girl and I hope she too achieve success in her life like you.

    1. Thank Shane for the lovely comment you wrote on my blog. Hearing from you motivates me to continue to blog because there are many people who want to help their loved ones who are struggling with hearing loss. The more you help your sister improve her pronunciation – her self-esteem, communication and engagement will improve ultimately leading her to become a successful future leader. Thank you for being understanding and kind to your sister. There will be days where she will get angry and that’s because she needs to be reminded by you that you’re helping her because you love her. Push her to improve her words no matter how many times she tries to give up. Eventually, she will start speaking better because you never gave up on her. Love your sister and show her that you care and trustworthy…that’s the only way you can save and help your sister.

  5. Really want to appreciate you for your great thought. You are right, even a mild hearing loss may be from an ear infection can slow down a person’s ability to speak well. I know a lot of people who is having this trouble in pronouncing words like ‘th’. They face difficulty in finding ‘t’ and mostly they omit whole consonants. It is not their fault, problem occurs when their brain power outstrips verbal dexterity. Anyway it is great to see people like you are giving more importance to these things and I hope more contributions from you.

  6. Really want to appreciate you for your great thought. You are right, even a mild hearing loss may be from an ear infection can slow down a person’s ability to speak well. I know a lot of people who is having this trouble in pronouncing words like ‘th’. They face difficulty in finding ‘t’ and mostly they omit whole consonants. It is not their fault, problem occurs when their brain power outstrips verbal dexterity. Anyway it is great to see people like you are giving more importance to these things and I hope more contributions from you.

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