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Learning languages with a speech impediment
February 9, 2012
20:16
Reve
Chicago, IL

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I mentioned this in my latest post in my language mission, I wanted to see what others' experiences were.

 

Up until the age of 21 or so when I worked really hard to improve it, I had a stutter.  Nowadays, in English, my stutter is pretty much nonexistent.  Having a speech impediment such as stuttering has definitely affected me personality- and such wise.  I'm not the most outgoing person in groups, though I am a good conversationalist one-on-one with people.  I have a fairly large vocabulary, since a strategy that stutterers utilize when they're about to block on a word is to say something else with a similar meaning (I essentially became a human thesaurus).  I can also be very eloquent with my writing, as I felt I needed to prove that I could express a thought well even though speaking was difficult.

 

With my Spanish (and I'm sure my French once I get better at it), stuttering is a problem again.  Part of it is probably biologically-based, since I have a disposition to it (stuttering also runs in my family), but I also feel like part of my problem is that I'm not entirely comfortable speaking Spanish.  My Spanish is advanced, though I have a ways to go before I can call myself fluent, but speaking can be stressful.  I try to speak slower when I feel particularly stressed, breathe a little more calmly, try to worry less about my accent, etc., to try to relax myself when I speak.  I'm sure I'll have to try similar strategies once my level of spoken French has improved.  It's a bit frustrating having to deal with this again.  I admitted to my teacher today that I have problems with stuttering, since when I read Spanish aloud I struggle a bit.

 

Anyone else have a similar experience, or another speech/language problem that they have to deal with?  How did you overcome it, and how has it affected your language learning?

Speaks: Learning:  On Hiatus:    On Wishlist:

February 9, 2012
20:52
Danny P
New York City / Ohio

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WOW. I literally have been wondering forever now if anyone else had the same issue. Thankfully for me, I don't really stutter conversationally. Just when I'm asked a specific question, and It's mostly just blocking. (You'lle know what that means haha)

 

As you can see, I am currently speaking a few languages, and at first, it was EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING.

Basically, find a personal you're comfortable with to speak the language at first. You won't stutter as much, then get used to speaking in that language, and you'lle flow much more, and then once you "flow" you're stuttering will be way less. 

 

Now I'm not saying I won't stutter. I stutter still in English, (my mother tongue) But trust me you need to utilize self talk and relaxing conversations in order to not stutter. Then, once you're comfortable you will mostly be able to deal with the world.

I could go on for days about this, as It's my number 1 issue with language learning.

DON'T THINK ABOUT YOUR STUTTER. Convince yourself. I DONT STUTTER IN SPANISH. or I DONT STUTTER IN FRENCH. and it will make you less nervous. 

 

Since you stutter, I can guarantee you will reach fluency much quicker than an average person. I don't know what it is, but people like us can string out sentences quickly with very few words because we're sooooo used to switching words in english and having limited choices due to having to avoid speech patterns in which we know will cause a stutter.

 

Although I don't think I will ever become 100% without my stutter, I just accept it, and to be quite honestly not many people ever notice I stutter, I am so good at hiding it, and pretending like I'm thinking and stuff, when I'm actually not.

 

BTW. can you talk on phones? I cannot for the life of me talk italian on phones, not sure why just Italian, I can MANAGE spanish, (the key word is MANAGE) but I cannot even get a word out in Italian, like not a single utterance haha. It's so odd… yet I can skype it no problem. which leads me to believe it must be somewhat mental…

 

ever think of hypnosis? I wanna try that. Convince a stutterer he doesn't stutter and that he will never stutter again. And see if it works. It may.

 

Sorry for the grammatical errors and crappy format. I was excited someone else had the same issue. As never before have I encountered a language learner with these issues haha. As most of us are still struggling with our mother tongues!

Speaks: English - Native , Spanish - Fluent , Italian - Fluent , French - Intermediate , Mandarin - Novice , Cusco Quechua - Novice
February 10, 2012
00:32
Reve
Chicago, IL

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Yeah, I definitely need to find more people I'm comfortable around.  I had a boyfriend here in Seville a while back and I don't think my stutter was a problem whatsoever back then.  I have a couple people I'm comfortable around, and in general when I meet new people I have to kind of convince myself that I'm comfortable until I actually am comfortable.

 

"Since you stutter, I can guarantee you will reach fluency much quicker than an average person. I don't know what it is, but people like us can string out sentences quickly with very few words because we're sooooo used to switching words in english and having limited choices due to having to avoid speech patterns in which we know will cause a stutter."

 

This makes sense.  In Spanish, just like English, I also have a fairly large vocabulary and can circumvent a bit if I'm going to block on a word.

 

I'm getting better at the phone.  In general I just hate talking on the phone in Spanish, mainly from an overall comfort standpoint, which in turn affects my speech. 

 

I feel like I stutter the most often ordering food at restaurants and such.  I was the same in English, there's something about talking about what food I want that affects my speech.  I have to pretend that I'm thinking a lot when that happens, which drives me crazy because I obviously know what I want, but at least it's acceptable to think about what food you want to order.  It's not as acceptable to block when I say where I'm from (Chicago).

Speaks: Learning:  On Hiatus:    On Wishlist:

February 10, 2012
01:08
Danny P
New York City / Ohio

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hahaha yes exactly! going to chipotle is a nightmare, especially the B sound in Barbacoa :D

 

But If I block on my city, (new york) I usually can just be like, take a guess. or I'll make a joke like, Oh I'm from cleveland! (I got to college in cleveland but I supposedly have a "Heavy" new york accent.) and theyll have to be like… I can tell you're not from cleveland! or something like that… which I think actually makes me a funnier person. If I didnt stutter I might be more boring because I could just interact basically without having to do "funny" things to speak haha. But hey, you know as well as I do the only people who actually give a shit about someone stuttering are those who actually stutter. Most people totally forget I stutter until I bring it up haha.

 

BTW  Chinese was the hardest thing ever. Due to all the foreign phonemes and the tones also, my stuttering was off the wall…  I couldn't even say Ni Hao without having the worse block ever.

Self talk seems to help, because you can learn to explain things beforehand and not have to worry about thinking about how to say stuff when we actually say it with real people.

Speaks: English - Native , Spanish - Fluent , Italian - Fluent , French - Intermediate , Mandarin - Novice , Cusco Quechua - Novice
February 10, 2012
01:47
Reve
Chicago, IL

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I try to make myself relax so much saying Chicago because I hate blocking on it.  For some reason I don't really block on my name, or at least nowhere near as much as I block saying Chicago, so at least that comes out clearly.

 

"But hey, you know as well as I do the only people who actually give a shit about someone stuttering are those who actually stutter."

 

I feel like when people know it's a speech impediment and I'm not just slow then they don't care, otherwise I get comments. Like years ago someone asked me for directions and I stuttered a little, and he asked if was I drunk so very matter-of-factly I said, Actually I have a speech impediment, and the way he apologized you'd think I caught him kicking a puppy or something.  Overall in English it's not a problem anymore, and since in Spain I'm obviously a foreigner (since black people aren't from Spain), blocks and such while speaking are generally just attributed to trying to learn the language, but I do speak and understand it pretty well.

 

Sometimes I try self-talk too, like I'll imagine conversations I either want to have or anticipate having.  I do this in English too, I think I like to have an idea of things I want to say.

Speaks: Learning:  On Hiatus:    On Wishlist:

February 11, 2012
00:09
Danny P
New York City / Ohio

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stuttering honestly sucks. Like if I wasn't into languages. I would probably not care at all at this point haha!

BTW how are you finding french with the stutter? 

Speaks: English - Native , Spanish - Fluent , Italian - Fluent , French - Intermediate , Mandarin - Novice , Cusco Quechua - Novice
February 11, 2012
02:25
Reve
Chicago, IL

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I wouldn't care either if I didn't have these language ambitions.  Honestly, what helped my stutter in English was to genuinely not care if I stutter, so that way it kind of lessened its power over me and gave me some mental relief so I could be a lot more comfortable talking.  Now if I have a particularly bad stutter in English I can joke about it a little, but largely because it does happen so rarely, and smaller blocks and such in English don't phase me anymore, but right now it's hard to not care about it in Spanish because I deal with it so often.

 

At the moment, I don't speak French (as opposed to read, study, listen) enough for it to be a big problem just yet. 

Speaks: Learning:  On Hiatus:    On Wishlist:

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